Tom Brady had a hard time adjusting to his fame upon winning Super Bowl XXXVI.
According to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham’s new book, It’s Better To Be Feared, the then New England Patriots quarterback was overwhelmed with his sudden celebrity and the mobs of people that surrounded him in public.
Brady even feared he would be followed home while driving, according to Wickersham. “He’d take back roads, stretching a half-hour commute into an hour or more, trying to shake a set of headlights, real or imagined.” Wickersham reveals this in his new book.
Brady feared he was being followed home early in his career
According to Wickersham, back in 2003, someone broke into Brady’s house in Quincy, MA and stole a TV, which left the (now) Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback feeling violated.
Brady had risen from NFL anonymity to stardom almost overnight. He went from a sixth-round draft pick and backup in 2000 to the Patriots’ starter in 2001 after an injury to Drew Bledsoe in Week 2.
With Brady under center, the Patriots became the unlikely Super Bowl champions that season. Amidst their victory, Brady was abruptly launched into fame, becoming an overnight celebrity and sex symbol.
As Wickersham wrote in his book, the media and gossipers would link Brady to celebrities like Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, and Tara Reid over the next two years.
The Boston Herald’s gossip section frequently reported on his whereabouts, referring to him as “QB/QT”—quarterback/cutie and/or quarterback/quick tackle.
Though Brady indulged in the celebrity lifestyle, he also felt overwhelmed by it, according to Wickersham. Still, he had dreamt of NFL stardom and did not want to turn back. He also grew tired of crowds of people that would surround him at every single public appearance.
Brady’s plan to deal with the fame
According to the book, Brady eventually developed a plan to handle the stress of his sudden newfound fame. His sister moved to Boston to “manage his life,” according to Wickersham.
Brady also began calling on family and friends to consistently stay grounded. Additionally, the quarterback started to take short trips, such as a road trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, to watch the San Francisco Giants training camp and to New York City to shop for Christmas.
It was just the start of Brady’s turn as a global sports figure—one that is still in full swing two decades later. Brady shared this himself with Wickersham: “I’ve got a life that any 26-year-old would want. And I’m finally able to enjoy it.”