The world might be surprised to learn one of the greatest quarterbacks in football history has a landlord, but longtime Stern Show fan and first-time guest Tom Brady told Howard he’s renting a house right now from retired Yankees legend Derek Jeter—and he couldn’t be happier.
“Everyone thinks they want to own a home. It’s nice to rent. You can get all the benefits with none of the responsibilities, so I’m totally cool with this,” the NFL star said on Wednesday morning.
Tom, his wife Gisele, and their children relocated to South Florida a few weeks back after he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent. “I am going to stay here for a while,” he told Howard. “I had to find a place on really short notice. He’s been a friend of mine, so we just talked and it all worked out.”
The weather is always warm and Jeter’s massive mansion apparently boasts an incredible view overlooking the bay, but Howard still had questions about the arrangement. “Let’s say the washing machine breaks – does Jeter have to come over and fix it?” he asked.
“I call and I bitch to him and he gets it fixed,” Brady joked.
Tom joins the Buccaneers after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots where he broke many of the league’s passing records, earned three M.V.P. trophies, and helped the Pats win six Super Bowls. Considering Wednesday’s conversation served as Tom’s first major interview since deciding to leave the only pro organization he’d ever known, Howard was dying to learn why the 42-year-old wanted to test his luck in Tampa Bay instead of going somewhere else or perhaps even hanging up his jersey for good.
“It’s because it was just time,” Brady said. “I don't know what to say other than that. I accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization, an incredible group of people, and that will never change. No one can ever take that away from me. No one can ever take those experiences or Super Bowl championships away from us.”
Tom told Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft that he was signing with the Bucs less than a month ago, but the star Q.B. told Howard he’d actually made up his mind to leave New England much earlier than that.
“I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year,” he revealed.
Breaking the news to his coach and employer wasn’t easy. “I called up Mr. Kraft and I went over to his house … I said, ‘Look, I just want to say how much I love you and appreciate what we’ve done together. I know that we’re not going to continue together, but … thank you for providing what you have for my family and for my career,” Tom recounted.
He didn’t break the news to Coach Belichick in person, however. He felt like he needed to call him right away before the news made its way to him. “I wanted him to hear from me how I felt about him,” he explained.
“Were there tears?” Howard asked.
“Yeah, I was crying. I’m a very emotional person,” Brady replied.
Howard thought it would be understandable for a player to root for their old team to lose in their absence, but Tom insisted that was not the case for him. “I have a lot of friends there, so I want them to do great,” he said.
“Do you want them to win the Super Bowl against you?” Howard asked.
“Well, no. I want my team to win the Super Bowl,” he laughed.
Brady’s name and face became synonymous with the Patriots franchise over the past few decades, so it’s unsurprising the rumor mill has worked overtime to speculate why he’d ever leave. Some suggested he resented Coach Belichick for receiving so much credit for New England’s successes.
“I think it’s a pretty shitty argument that people would say that. Again, I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine,” Tom said, adding, “Would I be the same level of success without him?’ I don’t believe I would’ve been … and vice versa as well.
If anything, he was grateful Belichick allowed him to become the best player that he could be. “I very much believe he feels the same way about me because we've expressed that to each other,” he added.
Howard wondered if Tom worried about playing too long and tarnishing his legacy as possibly the greatest quarterback of all time.
“I never cared about legacy,” he replied. “I could give a shit about that. I never once, when I was in high school, said, ‘Man, I can't wait for what my football legacy looks like’ … That's just not me. That's just not my personality.”
Football is one of the most physically grueling sports imaginable, even more so for a quarterback, and Howard wondered why his guest would continue to put his body through so much torment long after he’d earned all the money he could ever spend and filled his house with trophies. Tom told him the tragic death of N.B.A. legend Kobe Bryant earlier this year actually influenced his decision to keep playing. “Kobe thought he’d have a long life, too,” he said. “I loved watching Kobe play and I think in a lot of ways we had the same mentality … When I look at his life, you know, we all think we’re going to live forever, but the reality is we don’t know when our day is going to come.”
With that in mind, he decided to keep doing what makes him happy regardless of what other people think. “You don’t tell a musician stop singing at age 42, you don’t tell a great painter stop painting at 42,” he said.
Tom told Howard his parents are one of the biggest positive influences in his life. He admired his dad for going to work early, coming home late, and still mustering up the energy to take him to the park and practice fielding ground balls. “I think I really learned a work ethic from him,” he said.
While Wednesday marked Tom's first time on the Stern Show, he and the King of All Media nearly shared the screen a few years back when they were slated to co-star in a Super Bowl commercial together.
“Yeah, I remember that,” Tom said on Wednesday. “Why didn’t you do it?”
“It was a weird thing,” Howard said, explaining he was excited by the prospect of appearing with Brady in a Super Bowl commercial but balked at the opportunity after his agent showed him the script. “First, they’ll show Tom Brady at all angles and he’ll look perfect and beautiful … then, they’re going to show you and at every angle you’ll look bad,” he recalled his agent saying.
Tom never got to star alongside Howard in a commercial for the big game, but he did lead the Patriots to nine Super Bowl appearances over the years—more than any quarterback in N.F.L. history.
His fifth championship, an improbable comeback victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, remains a highlight of his career. He still remembers how he inspired his teammates when they were down 28-3 in the third quarter: “You could look at that situation and basically quit and say, ‘Fuck it. We have no shot at winning,’ or you can say, ‘This is going to be an amazing comeback. When we comeback from this it's going to be a defining moment in our … professional career.’”
“When you shift your mind to think that way, it becomes very empowering instead of very discouraging,” Tom added.
Epic victories of course call for epic celebrations. Most everyone has seen footage of newly minted champions popping champagne bottles in the locker room after the big win, but Tom assured Howard there’s even more going on backstage the public never gets to see.
Howard admitted he never considered a career in athletics because he was nervous about being naked in the locker room, but Tom said that has never been an issue for him. “You get used to it,” he said. “You figure it out, every guy’s penis looks the exact same.”
Are all men really created equal, Howard wondered? He speculated Tom’s friend and former Patriots teammate Rob Gronkowski, standing 6 feet 6 inches tall, probably looked different than most when the towel came off.
“The guy is like a Greek god, his body,” Tom agreed. “That guy is just jacked up. He’s got a great physique.”
Surprisingly, Tom said it’s the men with the most manhood who get goofed on the most sometimes. “If they’re very, very well endowed, they get made more fun of than the other guys,” Tom said, adding, “Certain guys would have to hide getting in the shower because they were embarrassed they were just, you know, a lot bigger than everybody else.”
His longtime tight end was never shy, however. “Gronk would get naked and literally throw his towel over his shoulder and just walk through the locker room with all the reporters—and I would just laugh,” Tom said. “Gronk, obviously, he didn’t give a shit. He’d just strut through,” Tom said.
Early on in the interview, Tom praised Howard for his storied radio career and suggested the two of them share similar work ethics. Later, they realized they had even more in common—both were friends with Donald Trump before he became president, both were asked to speak on Trump’s behalf at the 2016 Republican National Convention, and both ultimately declined.
“He wanted me to speak at that convention, too, and I think that I wasn’t going to do anything political,” Brady told Howard.
Tom said his friendship with Trump extended almost as far back as his professional career. “I met him in 2001 and in 2002 he asked me—after I won my first Super Bowl—to go judge my first Miss USA competition, which I thought was the coolest thing in the world,” he said, adding, “He would call me after games and say, ‘I watched your game, Tom. Let’s play golf together’ … he always had a way of connecting with people and he still does.”
Brady said their friendship became a topic of conversation in the media after Trump took a deep-dive into politics. “I got brought into a lot of those things because it was so polarizing around the election time. That was uncomfortable for me … the political support is totally different than the support of a friend,” he explained.
Howard’s wide-ranging conversation with Tom lasted well over two hours, but before letting the football great go he asked him to give the nation advice on persevering through the coronavirus pandemic.
Tom said his approach to COVID-19 isn’t much different than his approach to everything else in life. “We can’t control what’s going to happen externally, but what we can control are things that relate to us—what we put in our body, the thoughts we think. Are we fearful or are we optimistic? Are we positive or are we negative?” he said.
His final nugget of advice for Stern Show listeners was simple. “Try to get the right exercise. Try to eat a little healthier. Try to call love ones. Be a little more joyful—you know, that’s a great way to approach life,” he said.