"Yeah, she gives me all the food on her plate because she doesn't eat it," Brady is saying. Dressed in jeans, a black-and-white-checked shirt under a black crewneck sweater, and black suede loafers, the 31-year-old quarterback is sitting on the balcony of Pier 59 Studio's café, beneath a crisp, early-summer New York City sky. As to modeling versus football, Brady explains, "When I'm out on the football field, I have so much confidence in what I'm doing. With this," he says, meaning the modeling, "I don't know what I'm doing. I'm at the whim of the photographer and the crew." When I note that he has a decent coach in the household, he says, "Yeah, I should probably ask for some help. She does tell me to have fun, and to approach it in the third person, almost like acting. She makes it look so easy."

New York, thrumming several stories below, has become familiar terrain for Brady, who mostly divides his time between Boston (during the season) and Los Angeles (during the off-season), but who has an apartment here for the frequent times when Gisele is in the city for work. And by here we mean Manhattan—downtown in the West Village, to be precise—not the ultra-gated New Jersey enclaves where most of the city's pro athletes live. "You blend in very easily here," he explains. "You can kind of disappear here, and that's a good thing. There aren't too many places where I've found that's the case lately."

Understatement: another of Brady's skills. Because once you've won three Super Bowls, endured a very public breakup and a surprise pregnancy that was tabloid grist for months, and married the planet's most famous supermodel, there is no disappearing. Your new wife feeds you a morsel of food while you're on vacation, for example. This is duly recorded by a paparazzo with a super-zoom lens, then used as headline-worthy evidence of crippling softness—some kind of testicular rot threatening the city of Boston's municipal nut sack. "It's entertaining," Brady says of the charge, his shrug, though not his mouth, saying whatever. "You know, it's very—I don't take myself very seriously. I'm not a person who defends myself very often. I kind of let my actions speak for me. So when people criticize me, and they should—that's what you do as an athlete. You go out there, and that's what happens. You deal with it and laugh with it and hope they sell a lot of newspapers. Because there's going to be the next article the next day, and the next article the next day."

Indeed. The proof of that is in your hands. But we won't stop reading—and writing—about Tom Brady until his life becomes, well, boring. And that moment isn't coming soon. On the field, he's still the day's lead sports story: the underrated, overlooked kid from San Mateo, California, picked 199th in the NFL's 2000 draft (an early scouting report, which ranks right up there with Jim Cramer's exhortations to buy Bear Stearns stock among the media's greatest forecasting gaffes, devalued Brady for his "poor build" and said he lacked both "mobility" and a "really strong arm"), who went on to break a slew of NFL records and lead the closest thing to an NFL dynasty since Joe Montana's San Francisco 49ers. And now there's the injury, the comeback, the crush of expectations. He'd still be the Big Story if he looked like Shrek and was married to, say, that timid, mousy-haired woman in the accounting department whose name you can never remember.