Over the years, Tom Brady has consistently dodged the question of how many concussions - if any - he has had while playing football. His wife, though, is another matter.
Gisele Bündchen told CBS This Morning on Wednesday that Brady "has concussions pretty much" and added that he had one last season, although he was never listed as having one on the New England Patriots' injury report.
If he was in the NFL's concussion protocol, it was unreported. Bundchen brought up the subject when she was asked about his professed desire to play football well past his 40th birthday in August.
"I just have to say, as a wife, I'm a little bit - as you know, it's not the most, like, let's say, unaggressive sport, right?" she said. "Football, like he had a concussion last year. He has concussions pretty much. I mean, we don't talk about - he does have concussions. I don't really think it's a healthy thing for your body to go through, through that kind of aggression, like, all the time. That cannot be healthy for you, right? I'm planning on him being healthy and doing a lot of fun things when we're like 100, I hope."
Brady missed no playing time, other than the four-game Deflategate suspension he was given by Commissioner Roger Goodell. The Score's David P. Woods tweets that he has not appeared on the injury report with a concussion over the past four seasons. Don Yee, Brady's agent, has yet to respond to a request for a comment from his client. The Patriots, through a spokesman, said they had no immediate comment.
Asked about it in 2015, he told WEEI, "I'd really not like to get into that." Last year, he showed an increased awareness, like many NFL players.
"It's a very important topic. If you are going to put yourself kind of in the line of fire, so to speak, you better educate yourself," Brady told ABC. "I think there's been more awareness from the general media on what CTE is, how it affects you, the long-term ramifications of it. I think, as an athlete, you have to take all those things into consideration. Learning what it's about, gaining more information, implementing the right protocols, give it the right treatment protocols, and try to be as proactive as you can. That's what I believe in."
CTE has been shown to be caused by repeated blows to the head and many football players' brains display signs of it at autopsy. Brady has been luckier than most when it comes to protection by his teammates and by his ability to unload the ball when he senses a pass rush. But, as Bundchen said, the game is inherently dangerous and players do not want to come out for any injury. Still, there's an understanding that CTE can lead to problems such as dementia and cognitive decline later in life.
"If you're going to get injured, get treated the right way, so there are no long-term ramifications for it," Brady told ABC. "You'd hate to stop doing something you love to do because of an injury."
Brady, who is pursuing longevity and health through his diet and exercise, once endorsed a now-defunct product called NeuroSafe, which claimed that it "protects your brain from the consequences of sports-related traumatic brain injury." An ad for it showed Brady holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy, with a quote attributed to him: "NeuroSafe makes me feel comfortable that if I get a concussion I can recover faster and more fully. There is no other solution on the market today that can do what NeuroSafe does. It's that extra level of protection that gives me comfort when I'm out on the field."
Products such as NeuroSafe are dubious at best, but Brady and Bundchen swear by a largely vegetarian diet and his beloved avocado ice cream. Never mind that he's almost 40. Their children are into the plant-based diet, too.
"They love it," Bundchen said, though she demurred when asked whether she was actually the one to thank for Brady's continued success. "He has to thank his commitment and dedication to it because he still has to want to do it. In the beginning, it was a little, you know, different for him. Now he loves it and he wouldn't have it any other way because he feels better."