Gisele Bundchen on Tom Brady’s return to the NFL: ‘He needs to follow his joy, too’

Gisele Bundchen covers the October issue of Elle Magazine. While Elle tries to make it sound like Gisele rarely does editorials these days, she usually covers a couple of magazines a year? Like, she still gets offered tons of editorial work and – as she says in this piece – she still gets offered runway work too. Gisele is 42 years old and she could still be a full-time working model if she wanted to. Fashion designers still want to work with her, magazines love working with her, and I think that’s sort of the point of this Elle piece too. Gisele is on a comeback path, but an evolved comeback. She repeatedly references that it’s finally “her” time after spending a chunk of the past decade raising her children. She also talks about the rumors of marriage trouble with Tom Brady. Some highlights:

Her 30s, living in Boston: “I’m so grateful to have been there in those moments that were really shaping who they are as people,” she says of her children’s early years.

Her turn: “I feel very fulfilled in that way, as a mother and as a wife. And now it’s going to be my turn. It’s not like I’m going to be in the valley forever.”

Pollution: “In every major city, they’re putting toxins in rivers, and we have to think about what we’re doing, how we are jeopardizing the very ecosystem that provides us life. We are all connected.”

Planting trees: “That just shows you [that] in life, you reap what you sow, literally.” (In the end, Bündchen’s birthday campaign funded more than 250,000 trees.)

Optimistic environmentalism: “Most of the media chooses to focus on things that are negative, so if you are tuning into that frequency, you feel hopeless. My intention is to bring hope, to bring the possibilities, to show the beauty—to say, ‘Hey, we’re living in heaven, right here.’ ”

She still gets offered runway work: “Believe me, every year [designers] ask, ‘Please, Gisele, do the runway,’ ” she says, adding that she has “zero desire” to return to shows.

She’ll still do editorial work though: “It’s very easy for me to go there and create a character and play that role for the day. It fuels me.… I feel inspired to go and create more beautiful things in the world in different ways, too.”

On her reported desperation to get Tom to quit playing: “I think this is the system we’ve been living in. That’s what society has accepted and what society hasn’t accepted.” Ultimately, she wants him to be happy and she knows better than anyone how much he loves the sport. “Obviously, I have my concerns—this is a very violent sport, and I have my children and I would like him to be more present. I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again. But ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for [them]. He needs to follow his joy, too.”

Rumors of Tom and Gisele’s split: Weeks after our interview, as the new NFL season approached, Brady made headlines when he took an unusual 11-day break from training camp in August, citing personal reasons. Various tabloids reported that the couple was taking some time apart, citing Brady’s career as the flashpoint. Bündchen declined to comment on the speculation when we reached out in September.

She’s done her part: “I’ve done my part, which is [to] be there for [Tom]. I moved to Boston, and I focused on creating a cocoon and a loving environment for my children to grow up in and to be there supporting him and his dreams. Seeing my children succeed and become the beautiful little humans that they are, seeing him succeed, and being fulfilled in his career—it makes me happy. At this point in my life, I feel like I’ve done a good job on that.” Looking forward, Bündchen is going to make more space for her dreams, too. “I have a huge list of things that I have to do, that I want to do. At 42, I feel more connected with my purpose.”

[From Elle]

Yeah, it sounds less like Gisele “left” Tom and more like she’s put the ball in his court. She’s ready to get back out there and work more on her projects, and she thought she and Tom were on the same page. She was planning a world in which Tom was retired and spending more time at home so she could go out and do what she wanted, just like he thrived professionally while she was at home with the kids for years. She sounds like she’s shrugging it off now – like, okay, you want to keep playing football? Well, I’m going to do me, so deal with it.

Covers courtesy of Elle.

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36 Responses to “Gisele Bundchen on Tom Brady’s return to the NFL: ‘He needs to follow his joy, too’”

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  1. laurie says:

    Really can’t stand either of these two but I’m team Giselle on this.

    • Formal Gumby says:

      @Laurie: why can’t you stand her? A lot of comments I’ve seen lately say that as well, but Idk what the cause is. Seems like an emphatic “I can’t stand her;” I’m trying to understand if it’s a vibe or something specific?

  2. ThatsNotOkay says:

    She flat out left him to take care of the kids alone—like she’s had to do for ten years. Sure, he’ll just hire a nanny whom he’ll bang and continue playing football, but she made her thoughts known. He lied to her and broke a promise. She she’s gonna do her. Never been much of a fan of hers, but I’m a fan of this.

  3. ML says:

    I love the fact that Gisele is publicly standing up for herself and what she believes is right for her. Tom Brady unretired. Fine. She loves him, has told him she wants him to be more present, and she wants her promised time. He knew that. She is actually doing it. Well done!

  4. PaperclipExtraordinaire says:

    He’s “followed his joy” for years. It’s never enough for some, tho. Not a fan of either to say the least, but f*ck it – I’m team G on this and for every partner who is able to do it!

  5. ML says:

    Just wanted to say, a lot of people are posting admiration for how Gisele is handling this situation while at the same time saying that they are no fan of hers. I felt this way, but I have to admit, I am being won over. She ditched Leo back in the day and now she’s drawn her line in the sand with TB. I like it.

    • SKE says:

      It a weird pattern I’ve noticed recently. In order to support a woman’s decision on something it appears to be a prerequisite to say how much you don’t like her first.

  6. Merricat says:

    She calls them “my” children, and says how happy she is that she was around in their character-formative years. She’s given up trying to make Tom a steady part of their lives, having tried over and over through the years, and she knows that he’s making himself happy by playing football. This, to me, all sounds like a woman who is over it and is ready to move on. I think she’s made peace with it. He still has a responsibility of care to his children, and she let him have a taste of it. And I think it’s too late for Tom to fix anything.

    • Beach Dreams says:

      Yeah, the “MY” children part stood out to me too. I think she’s done regardless of whether they stay married or eventually split. He made his choice when he broke his promise to her and their family…now it looks like she’s making hers.

    • Coco says:

      Yes, I don’t follow these two, but from the comments on how she wanted him to retire for years. I’m sure she gave him ultimatums in the past but never followed through so he has taken her as a joke. I believe she’s come to a point where she realized that he’s not going to put his family in health above football and she’s already a single parent in her marriage, she’s not afraid to walk away and find her joy.

  7. Eowyn says:

    She’s releasing him. She’s over it. I remember that stage in my marriage.

  8. Maddy says:

    Marital stuff aside, I don’t want to hear her talk about pollution and all of us having to think about what we’re doing, when she routinely vacations on mega yachts, flies in private jets and owns multiple, massive homes.

  9. Laalaa says:

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but brava, Gisele. This is so feminist in my book! “I really did my stuff for you, now it’s my time”
    She’s done with Tom if he doesn’t compromise. And she is f-in Gisele, men will stand in line if she divorces him. Good for her

  10. Sam the Pink says:

    Man, this is making Tom Brady look so pathetic. He’s clinging to football like a guy who peaked in high school. He literally does not know who he is outside of football. Giselle sounds like she knows where she stands. She actually sounds like she loves him. She doesn’t want him to destroy himself and wants her kids to have a healthy, involved father. Nothing about that is unreasonable.

    • Lucy says:

      That’s exactly who he is. He retired, spent a few weeks panicking that he didn’t have football as an identity and was overwhelmed by how much work family stuff is that he’d assumed was easy.
      She sounds over it in an, “I wish him well” kind of way.

    • Blah blah blah says:

      For professional / elite athletes, not knowing who you are outside of your sport can be very common. Or at least having to find yourself again once you step back from what had been all consuming. Olympic athletes can struggle with this as well. I imagine most Olympic athletes have it much worse than professional athletes because of the financial hit they take having invested their time to make the Olympic team vs career building.

      Tom should suck it up and apply lessons learned from people who have successfully retired already!

      • Merricat says:

        Yep, every retired person faces the quandary of “who am I, if not my job.”

      • Sam the Pink says:

        I mean, it seems like a lot of former NFL players take common paths. I know a lot of them go into coaching, so they can stay involved in football, just not as players. Or become an analyst for a network, etc. Or they get involved in motivational speaking, business consulting, etc. And Brady is generally regarded as one of the best players of his generation – he would not lack for opportunities, right? It sounds like he can’t accept that he is aging and the NFL will soon not need him, but he still needs it.

      • Dutch says:

        Normally pro athlete’s relationships break down because they retire, because the rest of the family has created a routine that works for them and suddenly there’s a person with no rudder making them all crazy.

        @Sam Brady has already signed a 10-year, $375 million contract with FOX to be their lead football analyst after he retires. This is why I’m having trouble connecting narrative of Gisele expecting retired Tom to take over family duties and returning to her career to reality. Analysts don’t just show up at the stadium on Sunday and wing it. For almost half the year, there’s a lot of film study during the week. There’s travel on Thursday, production meetings on Friday, meetings with teams on Saturday then the games Sunday. And who knows what FOX is going to ask Brady to do to get their money’s worth in the off-season. Tom suddenly turning into Mr. Mom never seemed in the cards.

      • Mcmmom says:

        It’s not just athletes – I’ve seen a lot of men in particular struggle with this at retirement. My father and two fathers-in-law didn’t know what to do with themselves and all struggled with some depression, too. My grandfather retired from the Navy after 30 years. After 3 weeks, he went back and did another three years. I’m 10 years from retirement and I’m already thinking about what the next chapter will look like.

        I’m sympathetic to Tom Brady, but c’mon dude, figure it out. I do respect Gisele for how she’s approaching this. I’d be over it, too, if I was married to Tom Brady (which thankfully I’m not).

  11. Eurydice says:

    It’s not like she’s been locked in the kitchen barefoot with the kids and now she’s decided to be free, free, free. Even after all these years, her net worth is still almost twice Tom’s – so, she must be doing something else than just driving the kids to soccer practice. I get that she wants her husband to be around more and she’s been worried for his health – that’s totally understandable. But let’s not pretend these two are your average couple. The ego and drive that got them both to the top of their professions is stratospheric and they’ve managed to accept that about each other for all these years. Maybe they’ll stay together or maybe they won’t, but it’s not some kind of blow to the patriarchy if she decides to do something else with her life.

  12. Michael says:

    According to CNN they are still not living together. I guess she is over it

  13. girl_ninja says:

    Whatever on their marriage cause I’m not in it. Yes, I am nosey af but whatever. Her talking about how the media is just doom and gloom about climate change is nonsense. We don’t hear about the catastrophe that is upon us enough! Please do keep planting trees, but ma’am, there is more to helping to change what is happening than that.

  14. EviesMom says:

    Preach Gisele. She does sound done & ready to move on. It’s too late for Brady… because he still doesn’t get it or appreciate her sacrifice.
    I hope this serves as an Example to every partner everywhere who was part of a deal to stay home & raise the kids…. So many unspoken and spoken compromises while parenting. Team Gisele.

  15. Lens says:

    All of you mostly are saying what I did when I got on a Twitter thread about this. He broke his promise (probably more than one – I feel this ultimatum has been going on for a few years) and she’s done. At least half were saying football is his life and love and she knew it when they married and she’s being unreasonable since he needs to follow his dream. Well he is doing that. And he says it’s his last season but he said that before so… his promises are worth nothing now.

    • DK says:

      Sure, she knew football was his life when she married him, but:
      1) he knew modeling was HER life & career;
      2) they both knew full well that football careers have an expiration date, and they may well have planned their life and marriage around Tom getting to focus on football until he was done at the typical stage – and then he decided to hang in there for an extra decade or so, despite Giselle apparently making it clear she was not okay with that.

      So I’m not buying the whole “she knew what she was getting into when she married a football star” argument at all.

  16. lucy2 says:

    I admire her for doing this and being so vocal about it. It’s her turn, and he was supposed to retire and give her that space for her own pursuits, and he ditched her for football. I’m glad she’s not just sitting there and taking it for another season, she’s said “nope, I’m doing my thing now, you figure out all the other stuff”.

  17. Case says:

    Tom is not being a good partner to her at all. So often I feel like we hear about famous celebs who switch off projects  — one works while the other is home with the kids, and they take turns. Tom’s career doesn’t have an on/off switch, so Gisele put her career completely on hold while he continued his passion. It’s time for him to give her a turn.

  18. Kitten says:

    I bet her being so open about this is really pissing Tom off lol. Honestly, this is probably a very common situation that athlete’s spouses face–not the retirement/unretirement stuff but the obsession that very good athletes have with their sport and how much room is left over for their family and friends. It’s just what’s required to be the best. Ostensibly, she has him home with her and the kids for more than half the year, but maybe she feels that just isn’t enough. I think it’s great if she’s drawing a line–she has every right to, but I do wonder if she really wants Tom home 12 months out of the careful what you wish for, Giselle lol.

    • Sam the Pink says:

      I read it as being concerned about his physical wellbeing. He is 45, and despite his human kibble diet, 45 years is 45 years. He’s been taking hits for 2 decades. His body has got to be showing wear and tear. Is he going to keep it up until the sport destroys him? She probably wants him to preserve what health and vitality he has. And even when he’s home, I always assumed he was still devoting himself to training and was not “present.” It does read to me like she’s coming from a place of love and concern.

      • Kitten says:

        All fair points that you make–and honestly, who could blame her.

        These NFL players sign up for a slow death. The smartest ones play for a few years, wisely invest their millions, and then retire with a functional brain. I wish I was strong enough to quit watching football because it really is such a savage sport.

  19. Elsa says:

    I find her so cringe. Possibly there is a bit of jealousy or resentment that she has so much for nothing other than being pretty. I remember how difficult it was when I was a single mom. These people and their complaints seem so ridiculous and entitled to me.

    • Farrow says:

      There are lots of pretty women but only one Gisele. I don’t think she’s jealous. She makes more money than he does and always has. And yes, while her problems are definitely of the champagne variety, I think her desire to have her spouse be an equal partner and parent combined with feelings that she’s the one constantly being asked to make sacrifices in the marriage is one a lot of women can relate to. Not really understanding some of the vitriol towards Gisele in these comments. As celebrities go, she seems pretty benign to me.