You know the expression, "What do you get the man who has everything?" Well, in my world, the question is often, "What do you ask the man who's been asked virtually everything?"
Before you read on for Brady's answer, give yourself a moment to contemplate his possible response.
Remember, we're talking about someone who became a three-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP in his first five NFL seasons. He's got two NFL MVP awards. He's aiming to become the first quarterback ever to start in six Super Bowls and, down the road, the first quarterback over the past 60 years to start at the age of 45 (if you believe in the 37-year-old's desire to play for another decade). He's the greatest sixth-round draft pick in history. He's married to arguably the most beautiful woman in the world -- Gisele Bundchen -- who out-earns him by tens of millions of dollars. He's a father of three. His hair makes headlines in Boston. He's a magnet for TMZ's cameras as he seamlessly transitions from the red zone to the red carpet. He's a fashion and sports icon who still wants to describe himself as "little Tommy Brady from Portola Drive in San Mateo."
Did I kill enough time for you to be able to anticipate Brady's answer?
Well, here it is:
BORING. That's how he describes his life without football -- with a word you'd never expect to see in the same sentence as his name. But that affirms how much the game means to him. And it reflects how hard he's working to sustain his career, especially as he starts his 15th pro season.
The player who rarely grants one-on-one television interviews was in good spirits when he visited with us in the preseason. But that mood changed a short time later, when he learned friend and longtime Patriots offensive guard Logan Mankins had been shipped off to Tampa Bay, Mankins' value as a player no longer matching the economics of the team.
Ironically, this came on the heels of me asking Brady if he could one day see himself as a (cap) casualty.
His one-word answer surprised me again:
Really? This from the man who basically built Gillette Stadium and seeded Patriot Place? The former 199th overall draft pick who, as a rookie, brazenly told team owner Robert Kraft he was "the best decision this organization has ever made" -- and exceeded even those expectations? The Derek Jeter of the gridiron?
That last comparison is especially apt. One day, Brady might command a farewell tour and ads about "respect," just as the New York Yankees' shortstop has in his final MLB season. But while Jeter is busy saying goodbye, Brady's not ready to go just yet.
As one can see in his eyes and hear in his voice, he's motivated, fueled by more self talk than any doubters or haters on the outside could ever level at him.