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Pro Football

The Courting Of Tom Brady

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Published:   |   Updated: June 1, 2013 at 09:13 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Jay Feely, the former Jesuit High School and current Miami Dolphins place-kicker, tells this story about his wedding rehearsal dinner, held 10 years ago on a small cruise ship anchored on the Chicago River.

Tom Brady is on board. But outside the wedding party, which includes then-Jesuit assistant coach and best man Robert Weiner, Brady the groomsman goes largely unnoticed.

Imagine that. Feely can't. Not now.

"Nowadays, Tom wouldn't even be able to go to a wedding like that," Feely said Tuesday while relaxing with his wife at a Phoenix-area resort. "It's hard for Tom to go anywhere now."

A walk down Newbury Street in Boston is certainly out of the question. Even a visit to New York's West Village has its complications.

It's not hordes of football fans or autograph seekers that make it so. It's the paparazzi.

They follow Brady almost incessantly, chronicling his most every move. It's reached a point where you see Brady's face almost as much in the gossip pages as on the sports pages.

On Jan. 9, for example, "the Patriots quarterback hottie" was the subject of a lead note on the New York Daily News gossip page. It doesn't get much more A-list than that.

And then there's that video TMZ.com shot last week of Brady wearing a protective boot. That's one of about 20 different Tom Brady videos available on the celebrity gossip Web site.

Don't feel sorry for him. Brady has clearly brought this upon himself, what with his decision to first date actress Bridget Moynihan, with whom he fathered a child, and now supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Besides, he seems to enjoy the attention. He certainly seemed to be enjoying it Tuesday at University of Phoenix Stadium, where he was easily Super Bowl Media Day's most popular star.

"I wouldn't change places with too many people," said Brady, who even went so far as to suggest he would rather be chased by the paparazzi than New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.

"I can't outrun Michael; everybody else I can probably outrun," said Brady, who stopped the proceedings at one point Tuesday to take a picture of the media amassed in front of him.

"He does seem to be at ease with it all," said Feely, who was a teammate of Brady at the University of Michigan. "I mean, when you choose to date a supermodel, that sort of thing just kind of goes along with the territory."

The territory Tuesday included two women - one wearing a wedding dress, one wearing a sash reading Miss Nevada USA - who proposed to Brady. It also included a reporter from "Entertainment Tonight" who gave him ET's Top Model Award.

There also was someone from Telemundo who was dressed as a fortune teller and informed Brady that he saw him wearing two rings before the year ended - a Super Bowl ring and a wedding ring.

"I'll settle for one," said Brady, who made it clear that he would rather have a fourth Super Bowl ring than the wedding ring. Of course, that's what makes Brady so popular within his locker room.

Though he is fast becoming the most recognized player in the league, one who clearly transcends the world of sports, Brady carries himself like an actor in an ensemble cast where all have equal responsibilities.

"By any measure he's a true superstar, yet everyone in that locker room feels he has a piece of him," former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman said. "He's accessible to everyone in there. At the end of the day, I don't think there's one person in that locker room who leaves the building thinking he doesn't have a great relationship with Tom."

That's Brady in a nutshell. Affable almost to a fault, he has a way of making almost everyone - even the paparazzi - feel as if he wants to be their friend.

"It doesn't limit what I do in my life," Brady said, speaking again of the off-field attention he gets. "There's just give and take with everything in life, and you have to accept that.

"When you've won as many football games as we have, it demands probably a little bit more attention, and I understand that, and you just try to go about your life and enjoy it as best you can.

"I have no complaints. I really don't."


Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979 or rcummings@tampatrib.com.

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