Tom Brady had never been in this situation before. Sure, some things were similar. The 43-year-old quarterback was flanked by Tampa Bay fans cheering their heads off as he hoisted the ball. Out in front was Cameron Brate, his tight end, who is usually responsible for blocking ferocious pass rushers coming from the outside. Brate looked up in anticipation of the pass.
Brady gave the football a heave-ho motion, rocking it back and forth for practice. Brate was shirtless, and probably more than a little inebriated, but Brady was undeterred. Three… two… one…. he seemed to count, before releasing the pigskin. For a brief second, the Lombardi Trophy hung in the air, before the 7-pound trophy’s slender stand somersaulted around the piece of silver shaped like a regulation-sized football. Brate caught it, standing up proudly.
Cheers. Airhorns. More celebrating.
Plenty of football players have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy—or the championship hardware awarded each year to the Super Bowl winning team. But the rare few (read: only) player to have thrown it from the comfort of his own vessel is Brady. That distinction may go down in history (or at least until he does it again next year), as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrated their first Super Bowl win in 18 years during a boat parade in their home port. Brady tossed the trophy from the transom of his Wajer Yachts 55S named Viva a Vida, or "Live Life," which I’m told is in honor of wife Gisele Bündchen’s environmental efforts but could also be justification for having a little fun now and then. On Twitter he called it the "riskiest pass I've thrown all season."
For as much bad publicity as Brady might’ve gotten for the stunt, he more than made up for it by generating mega interest in Wajer Yachts. (For the record, I’m a lifelong Jets fan, and while there’s no love lost for Brady, who orchestrated too many winning seasons to count under center with the New England Patriots, I find all the finger wagging to be silly.) To perhaps milk this newfound attention for all its worth, the Dutch boatbuilder recently held a livestream from its headquarters in Amsterdam to announce a new flagship: the Wajer 77.
The 30-minute presentation was irreverent, it was funky. It had an MC that reminded me of a poor man’s Eugene Levy. Elon Musk was strangely brought up a couple times. The tagline for the 77—“The World Is Not Enough”—seemed tailor-made for a James Bond villain. (Or, you know, Elon Musk). And then the most famous of the 15 people who have already pre-ordered the new vessel made his appearance on screen. Calling in from his home on Davis Island, Tom Brady was effusive in his praise of the brand.
Brady said he linked up with Wajer within weeks of moving to Tampa. His current home has views of Hillsborough Bay, and when he saw the water, he realized what we’ve all come to realize at one point or another in our lives. “I said—I need a boat!” laughed Brady. “The 55 is an amazing boat, and it’s been amazing for our family,” said Brady. “I think the 77 will be a little bit more suited to what we need it for down here, which is a few more day trips and weekend trips. We spend a lot of time in the Bahamas.”
Of course, all the star power in the world shouldn’t diminish what looks to be a handsome, modern vessel that blends the plethora of sunpads found in day-boats with the vroom of a sport yacht. We were treated to an in-depth video rendering that showed off the 77’s angular lines, with a curved sheer that rises gracefully towards the bow. Down below, the interior stood out, with an interplay of white bulkheads with black detailing (such as a modern-looking bannister) leading down to a galley and workspace with two barstools that looked out at the starboard hullside window. The three cabins looked incredibly inviting with large berths, recessed lighting and well-hidden storage components.
Owner and Managing Director of Wajer Yachts, Dries Wajer, said that they projected the 77 to hit a top speed of 37 knots—more than enough for Brady and Co. to sit comfortably in the pocket and avoid blitzing squalls this offseason.
Some innovations to keep an eye on is what Wajer is calling a “hybrid fender system.” The system can inflate or deflate fenders at will, allowing owners to “click in a fender and it blow it up automatically and also deflate it, of course,” said Wajer. “It’s very simple, but [also] very practical.” Another one is a flexible deck layout that moves furniture around with the click of a button, as well as a deck cooling system that can cool off your barking dogs on a hot day.
As for Brady, he seems to have been bitten hard by the boating bug. “I’m looking forward to continuing my captainship over the course of my life, because I really enjoy being on the water,” he said. “I plan on being in Florida for a long time—I don’t see us moving out of here for quite a while, if ever. I have young kids, and it’s a great activity for our family. We’ve spent Christmas [and] New Years on our boat. Now it’s just getting into boating season here in Florida. The kids love it. My family loves it. We’ve just had some really great moments in the last 13 months being down here.”
That must come as welcome news to the rest of the 31 teams in the NFL, who just pray that a little sea spray will take Brady’s eyes off the prize. My advice? Don’t count on it.