Tom Brady has always been looking for speed; he had to retire from the NFL to find it

Tom Brady is an athlete who needs no introduction. He’s arguably the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, a man who personally won more Super Bowls – seven (six with the New England Patriots and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – than any other team as an organization ever has. He won more games, passed for more yards and for more touchdowns than anyone, ever.

Tom Brady did it all; he’s a paragon of excellence and a poster child for longevity. But he wasn’t quite perfect.

If there was anything that Tom Brady lacked, it was speed. On the eve of his iconic career, at the NFL scouting combine in 2000, he was timed as the second-slowest of the 18 quarterbacks in attendance.

Once drafted by New England, he would gain a little pace, but not much; mainly, Brady won games with his mind, his arm and the sheer force of his will. If it ever looked like his cleats were smoking, it would have been due to some kind of pyrotechnic residue from pre-game festivities and nothing to do with the speed at which he was advancing with the ball.

Brady was able to laugh about it; having burst through a gap in the Miami Dolphins defense in 2014, the then Patriots quarterback posted an ironic video clip that had been edited to the “Chariots of Fire” theme tune, the footage of his run mixed with images of a cheetah and a jet-powered car. He was so good at football that he didn’t need to be faster, but perhaps he wanted to be.

“If I couldn’t run that fast, I better figure out a vehicle that could move fast!” quipped Brady.

Going cleaner in the water

In 2024, Brady will line up as a team owner in the E1 Series, which is hoping to turn heads on the coastline and change our attitudes about renewable energy and water pollution.

Races that have been scheduled so far will take in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, then Venice, Monaco and Rotterdam in Europe. The organizers are already eyeing future series in North America and Asia, where Miami, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Macau and Tokyo are possible venues.

According to the co-founder of the E1 series, Alejandro Agag, who’s already created electric car racing championships with Formula E and Extreme E, the objective “is to be able to decarbonize lakes, rivers and eventually the ocean. We saw that there was a demand in the market to go cleaner in the water.”

“[This] championship is a platform to develop technology that can then be used on regular boats that people can use every day,” added Agag.

Brady can’t wait to get started. “I finished my football career and wanted to stay very involved in competitive sports,” the former quarterback explained. “Being down in this amazing climate here in Florida, I got into the boating culture, and I’ve always loved racing.”

It’s clear he’s already been seduced by the sleek and futuristic design of the ‘RaceBird’ boats, which rise out of the water on their twin hydrofoils to race at speeds of up to 93 kph (58 mph).

“You’re damn right I’m going to be in that cockpit at some point,” Brady enthused. “I love speed! I love driving fast! Absolutely, I’m going to be on one of those as soon as I can.”

But he’s quick to point out that he won’t be one of the pilots on race days. “Nope!” he chuckled, waving his hand to emphasize the point. “No way! Our team is going to be much better served having a real professional in there. I’ll be a good cheerleader when it comes to racing.”

‘Competitive people’

Brady isn’t the first athlete to sign up to the E1 project; other team owners hail from other sports around the world, where they’ve achieved legendary status of their own, and there’s still room for more to join.

Chelsea soccer great Didier Drogba, a Champions League and Premier League winner from Ivory Coast, is involved, along with the 22-time grand slam tennis champion Rafael Nadal from Spain. Another team will be headed up by Mexican F1 star Sergio Pérez.

Agag concedes that their involvement is crucial to finding and growing an audience. “These sports personalities are literally and figuratively getting on board,” he explained.

In Formula One, many of the drivers are household names globally, but that’s not the case in powerboating.

“We thought we need to have great figures as team owners that will help us catch the attention of the public, competing against each other as team owners,” added Agag.

“It’s a novel idea; there’s no other sport in which tennis players, F1 drivers, soccer and football stars would be able to go head-to-head, and Brady is already a fan of their work.

“Most athletes love sports, and we love competitions, so we pay attention to a lot of them. I’ve known Didier quite a while; he’s been a long-time friend, an incredible player, and a great humanitarian, too. My mom has been the biggest tennis fan, so I’ve been watching tennis since I was two years old. Rafa is obviously a great competitor, I think his will to win is unmatched. So Rafa is someone I look up to and admire.

“We’re all very competitive people, and we’re going to want to make sure that we’re on top when it’s all said and done.”

Agag says that he’s only had a few meetings with Brady so far, but it didn’t take long for him to see why the quarterback was so successful in the NFL.

“For me, he’s a very, very impressive person. And we’re so lucky to have him.”

Next chapter of Brady’s life

Brady himself believes that the leadership skills that he honed on the football field are easily transferrable to other sports.

“So much of it is about teamwork, the ability to communicate, really the ability to be on the same page, to have a degree of discipline where everyone’s working together to achieve a goal. There’s a very level playing field in this sport. We’re going to have to find ways to gain an advantage on the competition and it’s going to be a very fun journey,” said the former 45-year-old quarterback.

Having initially retired from the NFL in 2021, Brady returned for another season with Tampa Bay, but confirmed that he will definitely not be going back to the gridiron this time around.

“I’ve done my part in professional football,” said Brady. “I love looking forward to the amazing things I have ahead and different ways that I can make a difference in the world in a positive way.

“Hopefully, in the next chapter of my life, I’ll be able to do a lot of really enjoyable things that can create great awareness for the future generations, as well as keep up my very competitive instincts.”

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