Early Wednesday morning, a statement appeared on the Delta Air Lines “information center.” This is straight from the PR playbook, with all the fluff and jargon that tends to accompany announcements like these.
Tom Brady had signed a “one-of-a-kind partnership” with Delta, which will see the former quarterback become “a long-term strategic advisor” to the airline. There was even a quote from the man himself. Perhaps the remarkable line? “I’ve always admired the people who make seamless air travel possible,” Brady said.
An incredible collection of words and yet a strangely appropriate sentiment. Because as Brady begins a new life beyond the football field, he can’t afford any delays or disruptions. Not when his calendar is already full of new obligations across television, English football, Le Mans and much more.
Brady only retired from the NFL in February, saying he was no longer ready to make the “competitive commitment” required to play a 24th season. “It’s time to devote my time and energy to something else,” vowed the 46-year-old.
As the new NFL campaigns begin, no one can accuse the seven-time Super Bowl winner of sitting idly. Instead, Brady now sits atop a growing business empire.
As the new NFL campaigns begin, Tom Brady now sits atop a burgeoning business empire.
Its tentacles stretch from women’s basketball to electric boats, from Birmingham City to Major League Pickleball. Brady’s face and his name are everywhere. Perhaps this is not surprising: he is among the most successful and marketable athletes of all time. The only questions remaining: how can he fit all this in? And where could Brady appear next?
Brady began signing major sponsorship deals during his record-breaking football career.
Sports giant Under Armor was among the first brands to partner with the quarterback. Fanatics, Molecule Mattress and Aston Martin all followed. Others too. Together, they helped build his brand and his bank balance.
It is estimated that in 23 years in the NFL, Brady earned approximately $300 million from football and an additional $160 million from endorsements. As of May 2023, four months after retiring, Brady remains among the 50 highest-paid athletes in the world. He had earned $45.2 million, with $44 of that coming from off-field ventures.
What’s changed in recent years is that Brady is no longer just about making money. He also started investing in it.
In May 2022, the quarterback signed a 10-year, $375 million contract to become Fox Sports’ lead NFL analyst starting with the 2024 season.
In March, the former quarterback became a minority owner of the WNBA team Las Vegas Aces.
Last October, Brady joined tennis legend Kim Clijsters on an ownership group for an expansion Major League Pickleball team.
In March, he sponsored the Porsche 963 Hypercar for all 24 Le Mans races and became a minority owner of the WNBA Las Vegas Aces team.
In May, it was announced that Brady had “reached an agreement” to join the LA Raiders ownership group, although red tape threatened to derail that move.
In July, Brady was revealed as the latest celebrity team owner in the E1 World Championship, joining Rafa Nadal and Sergio Perez in the new electric racing boat competition.
Last month, the 46-year-old became a minority owner of English football club Birmingham City.
This week, he joined Delta with CEO Ed Bastian promising that “magic is going to happen.” Many of these moves were made in parallel with Knighthead Capital Management, a US hedge fund with a portfolio of assets worth $10 billion.
That’s a remarkable split, especially considering everything Brady has sacrificed and everything he’s achieved over the past two and a half decades. The 46-year-old hardly needs the money. He already earns a lot. He already had a lot to do:
Brady won seven Super Bowls during a remarkable 23-year career as an NFL quarterback
In 2013, Brady started TB12, a fitness and nutrition company, alongside body coach Alex Guerrero. Their original methods – “centered around the concept of flexibility” – have helped the quarterback over the past 23 seasons in the NFL. TB12 offers products including supplements, plant-based proteins and fitness equipment. In 2017, Brady published “The TB12 Method,” which offered readers the secrets to “How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Maximum Performance.”
A few years ago, the quarterback launched this “multi-platform content company” with the goal of making documentaries, films and television shows. The name is a nod to his draft number in the 2000 NFL Draft and their work includes “Man In The Arena,” a series about Brady’s nine Super Bowl seasons.
In January 2022, “Brady Brand” was launched. The venture lasted three years and involved fashion greats Dao-Yi Chow and Jens Grede. Nowadays, fans can buy underwear, jackets, sweatpants and even golf equipment along with polo shirts for $75. Best sellers include the Brady Pants ($95) and Full-Zip Hoodie ($120).
Cryptocurrency and NFT
Two volatile words that, for once, Brady couldn’t bend to his will. Alongside his ex-wife, Gisele Bundchen, Brady has partnered with crypto exchange FTX. It is estimated that between them, Brady and Bundchen received nearly $50 million in stock. When FTX collapsed, they lost a fortune and quickly faced lawsuits.
Earlier this week, Brady was announced as a “long-term strategic advisor” for Delta Air Lines.
Earlier this year, Brady was among a series of celebrities sued for approving the failed trade. Meanwhile, in 2021, the quarterback co-founded the NFT platform Autograph. The initial objective? Purportedly to help celebrities sell NFTs to their fans – according to its website, the company’s partners include Tiger Woods, Simone Biles, Derek Jeter and Wayne Gretzky.
The company raised $170 million in funding, only for the NFT market to collapse, forcing Autograph to lay off about a third of its workforce.
Cynics may wonder just how involved Brady is in all of this. It’s easy to assume that it offers brands a face and a name and nothing else. Easy PR that works for all parties.
And yet the facts suggest something more.
At Delta, Brady’s job reportedly involves helping “develop and advise on strategic training and teamwork tools for the airline’s more than 90,000 employees.”
“It’s not a sponsorship,” Delta CEO Bastian told CNBC. “He’s going to come into the company and he’s going to talk to our employees about greatness, resilience, excellence and performance in a team sport.”
During his first year, the release said, Brady “will work closely with Delta employees for onboarding, cultural familiarity and immersion into the Delta organization.” He will also appear on Bastian’s show “Gaining Altitude,” a one-on-one discussion series featuring important conversations about overcoming adversity, performance, perseverance and much more.
Former quarterback headed to Birmingham City after becoming minority owner
Brady recently traveled to Birmingham to watch their win over Leeds and owner Tom Wagner insisted: “HWe will have an important role in health, well-being and nutrition. Indeed, human sustainability will play a role in how we think about player interaction.
Here, Brady has already started working in television for Fox, helping promote his alma mater – Michigan – ahead of its first game of the new Big 10 season.
His deal to join the Raiders hasn’t been made official yet, but Brady still showed up for their preseason game against the Cowboys. “His competitive spirit shows even while preparing for Dallas’ preseason game,” quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said.
“He was in the locker room with us. You can feel it – that competitive spirit was coming through a little bit. He was getting a little feisty. He also stays busy.