Not a year has gone by since Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen tied the knot in 2009 that he hasn’t credited her with being the glue that’s held their family together while his focus was more often than not trained on the football field. Or at least no year should have gone by without him saying that. “You know, we find time to spend together,” Brady told GQ, just months into their marriage, of his then-pregnant wife. “But Gisele understands the job requirements. I get some time with her on my day off, Tuesday, and then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday nights. Probably after wins I’m more with her. After losses, I don’t think much of anything other than the game. This morning at breakfast, for instance, I was talking to her, but I just wasn’t there.” True, she did willingly sign up to be his other half, aware of the circumstances and they’ve lived a pretty lovely life in the interim. But at last, just in time for their 13th wedding anniversary Feb. 26, Bündchen got the gift she’d been hoping for: her husband’s undivided attention. Acknowledging that he had spent 22 seasons giving 100 percent to the game he won seven Super Bowl rings playing, Brady wrote in announcing his retirement Feb. 1, “I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it’s time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.” Cue the spotlight on a certain Brazilian super-mom. “To my wife, Gisele, and my children Jack, Benny and Vivi, you are my inspiration,” he continued. “Our family is my greatest achievement. I always came off the field and home to the most loving and supportive wife who has done EVERYTHING for our family to allow me to focus on my career. Her selflessness allowed me to reach new heights professionally, and I am beyond words what you mean to me and our family. Te amo amor da minha vida.” And with that, Brady’s announcement coming after a few days of will-he-or-won’t-he prompted by ESPN reporting he was but his own father saying he wasn’t, the most winning NFL quarterback of all time headed into his future. Well, then a week later the 44-year-old said, while he felt “very good” about his decision, he couldn’t predict how he’d feel in six months and he’d “never say never” about possibly playing again (prognosticators think the Bay Area native would fit right in with the San Francisco 49ers). But that’s sports talk for ya. And he’s got his burgeoning TB12 lifestyle empire and everyone’s going to want to be in business with him and he’s already planning on being in a movie, so not all of his time will be free. First thing’s first, though, and that was the Brady bunch taking off for their home in Costa Rica for some R&R that didn’t come with a return-by date for a change. Brady shared on the Late, Late Show With James Corden last year that, after he won his seventh Super Bowl and fourth since becoming a married man, his wife asked him, “‘What more do you have to prove?'” In turn, the athlete “was trying to figure out a way to change the subject really quick,” he recalled. “I think I moved on to something else pretty quickly.” But that had become a pattern year after year, since Brady never stopped winning and, in turn, never stopped playing. Instead of retiring as a New England Patriot after 20 seasons, when a deal couldn’t be reached he pressed on-and immediately led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first championship in 18 years. He had said in the past that his goal was to play until he was 45, but he pulled up a season shy of that milestone. Instead he went out with as close to a win as a loss can be when the Bucs fell in the divisional round to the eventual Super Bowl winner L.A. Rams 30-27 despite some serious late-game heroics from their TB12 Method-following freak of nature of a quarterback. And here Bündchen thought when she married a 31-year-old football player that he could only be in the game for so much longer. “He did tell me that he was going to play only for 10 years, I just want to say that,” she recalled in 2017 for the Facebook Watch docuseries Tom vs. Time. “When I met him in 2006 he said, ‘Listen, I’m just going to play for 10 more years and I’m going to win one Super Bowl and I’m going to be happy.'” The supermodel had made headlines in May 2017 when she said in a wide-ranging interview on CBS This Morning that her husband suffered a concussion at some point during the 2016-2017 season that-as follow-up reports swiftly pointed out-was not noted on any Patriots injury report. “I don’t think it’s a healthy thing for your body to go through,” she observed. “Through that kind of aggression, like, all the time. That cannot be healthy for you, right?” Brady’s agent said the athlete was not diagnosed with a concussion during that time and the NFL said that medical records from the season supported that assertion. Meanwhile, Brady himself told ESPN, “She’s there every day. I mean, we go to bed in the same bed every night, so I think she knows when I’m sore, she knows when I’m tired, she knows when I get hit. We drive home together. But, she also knows how well I take care of myself. She’s a very concerned wife and very loving.” After the Jan. 23 loss to the Rams, Brady said on his SiriusXM show Let’s Go! of his then-pending decision about retirement, “I’m gonna spend some time with [my family] and give them what they need, because they’ve really been giving me what I need the last six months, to do what I need to do.” “And I said this a few years ago,” he continued, “it’s what relationships are all about. It’s not always about what I want. It’s about what we want as a family. I’m gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what’s next.” He’s nothing if not an efficient absorber of information that will be essential to long-term success. Because while his unmatched drive and age-defying total-body health regimen allowed him to be the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl in three different decades, the single-mindedness that helped him maintain that level of success also landed him in couples counseling after Bündchen explained to him in a letter that she needed his head in the game at home when he wasn’t on the field. “She didn’t feel I was doing my part for the family,” Brady, who admitted he originally hadn’t planned to get married or have kids until his late 30s (or “until I’m basically done playing”), said on The Howard Stern Show in 2020, speaking from the waterfront mansion they were renting from Derek Jeter when they first moved to Florida. “I had to make a big transition in my life to say, ‘I can’t do all the things that I wanted to do for football like I used to. I gotta take care of things in my family,’ because my family, the situation, wasn’t great. She wasn’t satisfied with our marriage.” So, just as he’d done his whole life when something mattered to him, he put in the work, as he had to do early on to convince Bündchen that she was making the right decision about her future a few months after they were introduced by a mutual friend. “This friend told me he knew a girl version of me,” Brady recalled to Details in 2009, with Bündchen adding, “and he said to me he’d found a boy version of me.” “I knew right away-the first time I saw him,” she told Vanity Fair in 2009, just days before they got married. “We met through a friend. The moment I saw him, he smiled and I was like, That is the most beautiful, charismatic smile I’ve ever seen! We sat and talked for three hours. I had to go home for Christmas, but I didn’t want to leave. You know that feeling of, like, you can’t get enough? From the first day we met, we’ve never spent one day without speaking to each other.” And communication was especially key when she found out not long after they started dating that Brady’s ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan was pregnant with his child. “It was definitely a surprise for both of us,” Bündchen recalled to VF. “In the beginning you’re living this romantic fantasy; you’re thinking, This can’t be true, it’s so good! And then, Whoops-wake-up call! We were dating two and a half months when he found out, and it was a very challenging situation. Obviously, in the beginning, it’s not the ideal thing.” “You question at times-‘Should I stay here? Maybe you should work this out,'” she remembered thinking. “But when people break up, it’s for a reason.” And she couldn’t think of a good reason, not least because Brady embraced becoming a father when son John Edward Thomas Moynahan-who goes by Jack-was born in August 2007. “I just thought like, I never met a guy that is so sweet, and so gentle and honorable. Just how he is, you know. That I felt like, ‘Oh, I think I have to really think about this,'” she reflected last year on Brady’s ESPN+ docuseries Man in the Arena. “If you’re choosing this, you’re choosing, you know, to have this child for the rest of your life, and his mom and all of this, you know, this is all gonna be part of your life.” Brady, who like Bündchen grew up in a big, tight-knit family, admitted to Details in 2009, “That’s not how you envisioned your life, that’s not how you envisioned having children, but it happens…Life is not living in the suburbs with a white picket fence. That’s not life. Somehow our American culture has made it out that that’s what life needs to be-and that if it’s not that, it’s all screwed up. It’s not. You go through life and you try the best you can.” Talking to Vanity Fair at the time, Bündchen said, “I think it was a blessing, because otherwise I don’t think I would have known what he was made of, and he wouldn’t have known what I was made of. I wouldn’t have seen the integrity in him-the way he was a good person through all the times. I was like, You have the heart in a good place! It made me feel more in love with him; it made me realise who he was. Our relationship has become so much stronger and I think I wouldn’t be as certain as I am today if it weren’t for that.” Ultimately, the supermodel added, “my idea of that is you have a partner who’s got your back. When I’m weak, you can be strong; when I’m strong, you can be weak. That’s what I believe marriage is. Loving someone, you want to grow with them, share with them, share the same values, the same feelings about things, the same beliefs.” So, they got married on Feb. 26, 2009, in a small civil ceremony in Santa Monica, Calif., and then again in a slightly larger beach affair that April in Costa Rica. “We planned it in like 20 days, and it was perfect,” Brady told GQ later that year. “We went back to the house and I barbecued aged New York strips. We had champagne, a cake, some ice cream. It was a great night. I think you always have this idea that weddings need to be 200 people and you invite everybody, and I’m all for it if people want to do that, but I think there was really something special about just having our parents there.” Bündchen also, incidentally, was over the moon for her stepson Jack, who attended both of his dad’s weddings. “It wasn’t the ideal situation for anyone-there’s no manual to prepare you for that,” Bündchen told People in September 2009. “But I’m so grateful for [Bridget]. I know this was hard, but I couldn’t imagine my life without [Jack]. I call him my bonus child.” Moynahan, a star of the long-running CBS drama Blue Bloods, has long been a friendly co-parent, and she joined the parade of well-wishes after her ex announced his retirement, tweeting, “So proud of @TomBrady. Yesterday and today and I know you will do great things tomorrow. Looking forward to the next steps.” She also became a stepmom of three when she married husband Andrew Frankel in 2015. Brady and Bündchen welcomed Benjamin Rein Brady on Dec. 8, 2009, and Vivian Lake Brady on Dec. 5, 2012, both of them helping to reroute their dad’s one-track mind, even during football season. But sometimes on-field stresses followed Brady home, such as when the Patriots were accused of purposely letting the air out of footballs to make them easier for Brady to grip during a 2014 playoff game-and which ultimately resulted in the quarterback being suspended for the first four games of the 2016-17 season, opening quite the rift between seemingly the entire state of Massachusetts and NFL Commissioner Robert Goodell. All told, from accusation to suspension, the “Deflategate” saga unfolded over the better part of two years, resulting in the first not all that far-fetched-seeming rumors about the state of Brady and Bündchen’s union.