But he doesn't, and he's not—which is why off the field he's bigger still. Even his Saturday-afternoon fashion choices come under scrutiny. "Is that a man purse he's romping with, or a feedbag for a horse?" asked the Boston Herald earlier this year. "Maybe my creativity comes out a little when I dress," Brady says of his style. "I'm not a very creative person, you know? I'm not really an art person. I'm not a great reader or writer or artist or musician. Hopefully I encourage my teammates, a little bit, to get their wives or girlfriends excited when they walk through the door."
When the sporting press gathered for the Patriots' first formal minicamp practice, in late May, the questions veered swiftly away from the status of Brady's ACL to the status of Gisele's uterus—from orthopedics to gynecology. Was Gisele pregnant? they asked. (Brady denied it, in much the same way the couple denied they were engaged in the months before their wedding. But the tabloids, citing sources close to Gisele, are adamant: She's pregnant. When I ask Brady about it privately about a month after the press conference, he explains, "It's just not something we discuss with anybody. It'll be obvious when it happens.") It's worth noting that no other player had to field questions about his marriage or relationship status. Even the sportswriters feel obligated to probe the tender spots, the domestic minutiae. Somewhere along the way, Tom Brady morphed from Quarterback to Celebrity, from Sports Illustrated subject to Us Weekly subject, from the topic du jour at barbershops to the topic du jour at beauty salons.
"This isn't what you think about," he says of the fame. "You love playing, and, you know, it's pretty cool when you're younger and you go up to a bar in Boston and they let you in because you're the quarterback and it's like, hey, bring all your friends in. That was great."
Suffice it to say that Tom Brady's days of easeful barhopping are long gone. "Every time I step out," he says, "I know there's probably somebody watching, with a camera phone or something. And it doesn't feel good." Troubling case in point: Brady's wedding to Gisele in April, in Mal Pais, Costa Rica. (Their second wedding, for the record; they officially married in February, in Santa Monica.) Two paparazzi claimed that armed members of the couple's security detail opened fire on them as they were fleeing, and they offered photos of their car's shattered rear window as proof. (Brady disputed the allegation, saying the "security guys" weren't armed.) But shots or no shots, the die is cast. Like a buck roaming the woods, ears overattuned to the sound of a rifle click, Brady always has his guard up. "I'm glad they didn't have those camera phones seven or eight years ago," he says, referring to his wilder single days. "When I go out now, I just watch what I'm doing."