Close-up: Tom Brady

He's got the $60m contract, the supermodel girlfriend, and the Super Bowl tonight
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The Independent Online

If the New York Post was trying to rattle Tom Brady, it will have to try a little harder. "Girlie man limps home," was its recent headline, when the 30-year-old New England Patriots quarterback was snapped by paparazzi in the Big Apple. Girlie man? Well, he was wearing a cast on his foot, to protect against further damage to a high ankle sprain, and he was carrying flowers – perhaps not fitting for a man who earns his corn in the macho world of American football. But Brady won't be too worried; he's already discarded the cast, and those flowers? Perhaps his girlfriend, the Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and recipient of said floral arrangement, can mop up the tears.

Later this evening, the Patriots will take on New York's Giants in the 42nd Super Bowl, and the quarterback with the million-dollar smile (and $60m contract) is hot favourite to walk off with the trophy: Brady has just led the Patriots to the first undefeated season by an NFL team in a 16-game year, setting a record for touchdown passes in the process.

Though Brady's on-field accomplishments are impeccable (if the Patriots win, the man once judged to be too "skinny" and lacking the arm strength to make it in the NFL would have his fourth Super Bowl triumph – a feat achieved by only two other quarterbacks), his golden-boy image was tainted in late 2006, when he broke up with the actress Bridget Moynahan – just as it was revealed she was pregnant with his child. Yet even that split seemed amicable – Brady was present at the birth of his son – and he is now half of one of the most high-profile couples in America. One more win and Brady can forget ever being able to go out in public without being snapped again.

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