As Tom Brady retires, Gisele Bundchen goes to work

As Tom Brady retires, Gisele Bundchen goes to work

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On Tuesday afternoon, People magazine published a story about a Gisele Bündchen photo shoot in Florida. In a photo shared with the story, the model ran her fingers through her tousled hair as she posed in a see-through dress on the beach. The sheer material clung to her sculpted calves, her six-pack abs, her can-you-believe-I’ve-had-two-kids breasts, all of it. She looked better at 42 than she did in her 20s when she spent a decade as the world’s highest-paid supermodel. This was a woman whose physique lies at the rare intersection of genetics, effort and talent, and who, after putting her career on hold for 13 years so her ex-husband could play sports, the end was coming back into the saddle.

Here, in recent weeks, was a newly divorced Gisele posing topless in a Louis Vuitton ad, accessorized mostly with a polka dot handbag. Here was a newly divorced Gisele going for a run in Costa Rica with her “handsome family jiujitsu instructor,” which insiders swore was completely platonic.

On Wednesday morning, sports legend Tom Brady announced his retirement.

NFL quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement on February 1 after 23 years in the National Football League. (Video: Tom Brady)

If you believe the theories of the Internet commentator, these two events were connected. The couple’s split last year allegedly came about because Gisele wanted her husband to retire at the time and Tom just couldn’t quit the game.

No one but the couple knows the full story. What we do know is that Tom eventually signed on for another season. Divorce lawyers were hired, ink was applied to papers. Then Tom’s bonus season was a bust, and Gisele posed on a beach, and maybe the quarterback realized how much he had given up to lose to the Dallas Cowboys.

Memes circulated after Tom’s retirement announcement. Most evocatively, the soccer star is portrayed as John Cusack in “Say Anything,” standing under Gisele’s window with a boombox, begging her to take him back. Boy, had this doofus messed up.

But he was trying, perhaps, to make things right? Notice how he had written “I love my family” under his Instagram announcement — which, like Gisele’s photo shoot, appeared to take place on a Florida beach. Notice how he had included some images of Gisele in his Instagram stories, but subtle ones: images of Gisele from behind, with her arms around their children. If Brady was trying some sort of “Say Anything” move, it was of a more respectful nature.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gisele responded directly to Tom’s retirement announcement. “Wishing only wonderful things in this new chapter of your life,” she posted.

Giselle’s post was a sweet goodbye message, the kind of generic warm sentiments usually reserved for a graduation card signed by a distant aunt. He suggested that there would be no reunion, that the book of life could not be read or relived, that Tom would begin this new chapter with Giselle’s support, but not with her.

Look, I’m two-thirds of the way through writing this column about Tom Brady’s retirement and divorce, and I can’t even tell you why I’m following this intimate celebrity gossip. I can barely tell a Quarterback from a Quarter Pounder; I’ve never stood on the beach in a see-through dress while a stylist ran a box fan through my hair.

But this famously stratospheric marriage between two rich and beautiful people seems to tell us something about relationships in general, or what it means to negotiate a lifetime with another person. Whose career comes second? Who agrees to sacrifice, to move to Tampa, to be the one on call when the child is having trouble at school? Time is not infinite and neither is geography. You can’t have one parent walking a track in Milan while the other is at quarterback in Green Bay. What does it cost to follow your dreams, or try your best to make someone else’s dreams come true?

Few of us can imagine what it would be like to be as good at anything as Tom Brady is at football—a gift that borders on the divine, as if it were given by God. But I think most of us can imagine what kind of things he might have felt as he made an Instagram post promising not to get emotional and then got emotional anyway.

He might have thought about how he had gone to work for 23 painful, impossible years, building a legacy, setting an example, leaving it all out on the field, winning like no one had ever won, and also losing, because no one can. win everything all the time. He might have wondered who he would be now, without all of this. And he might have thought about how he had given everything he had to a profession, only to reach the bottom and wonder if it was all enough or too much.

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