Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady seemed destined to be together forever and the perfect pair: the GOAT NFL quarterback and a highly sought-after supermodel.
But after 13 years, the couple called it quits somewhat unexpectedly in late 2022, prompting many to wonder what happened.
Rumors swirled that the mother of two had given her NFL superstar husband an ultimatum amid his retirement and unretirement from football.
But in a new interview with Vanity Fair, Bündchen disputes those claims, calling them “very hurtful” and “the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
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“What’s been said is one piece of a much bigger puzzle. … It’s not so black and white,” she told the outlet.
“Sometimes you grow together; sometimes you grow apart.”
“When I was 26 years old and he was 29 years old, we met, we wanted a family, we wanted things together. As time goes by, we realize that we just wanted different things, and now we have a choice to make. That doesn’t mean you don’t love the person. It just means that, in order for you to be authentic and truly live the life that you want to live, you have to have somebody who can meet you in the middle, right? It’s a dance. It’s a balance.”
Brady and Bündchen first met in 2006. The pair began dating in the same month the football star broke off his relationship with ex Bridget Moynahan, who later welcomed Brady’s son Jack. Bündchen and Brady married in 2009 and share two children, Vivian and Benjamin.
Bündchen went on to say, “When you love someone, you don’t put them in a jail and say, ‘You have to live this life.’ You set them free to be who they are, and if you want to fly the same direction, then that’s amazing.”
Celebrity matchmaker and dating expert Alessandra Conti echoed Bündchen’s comments, saying that, similar to “non-celebrity relationships,” it’s “typically about the fundamental values and priorities of a person as opposed to their career or one issue” that causes them to go their separate ways.
“Gisele needs a partner who prioritizes her and her needs; the fact that she was craving a partner to just meet her at 50% is jarring,” Conti told Fox News Digital. “Fifty percent is the bare minimum, and there are so many men who prioritize family above all and understand that relationships require consistent effort, dedication and maintenance.”
Conti further shared why she believes athlete-celebrity relationships like Gisele and Tom’s seem to fall apart.
“Athletes are best matched with women who can follow them around the world as they train and travel for their sport. The grueling hours and intensive mental and physical toll that professional athletes endure during their seasons are not easy for any woman to handle, especially a woman who has her own notoriety and who is incredibly busy in her own right,” the matchmaker said.
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“Celebrity women need a partner who is strong and supportive, and who encourages them to shine. When there are two people (even subconsciously) who simultaneously need an immense amount of emotional support, and they are pouring from empty cups and coming from places of overwork and feeling neglected by their equally busy partner, things can and will get toxic,” Conti explained.
“That said, there are celebrity-athlete relationships that can and do go the distance.”
Brady and Bündchen aren’t the only celebrity-football couple that hasn’t been able to make their relationship last. Here’s a look at some couples who didn’t — and a few who did — make their romances last.
Kristin Cavallari & Jay Cutler
The “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” star Kristin Cavallari married former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in 2013. They share three children, Camden, 10, Jaxon, 8, and Saylor, 7.
The couple became engaged in 2011, before briefly separating from one another and then getting back together, having their first child and marrying within two years. They divorced in 2020.
Cavallari has discussed parts of her relationship with the NFL star that didn’t work.
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On the “Call Her Daddy” podcast in 2022, Cavallari said, “I called off the engagement the same reason I got a divorce. … If there’s any takeaway from that: You can’t ignore red flags. People don’t change. And, you gotta trust your gut.”
She noted that she’s careful with what she says about the relationship because it can impact her kids. But she did summarize her thoughts on her marriage to Cutler.
“It was toxic, I think. Period, end of story,” she said.
Cutler went on the “Sofia with an F podcast” shortly after Cavallari’s comments to respond and address rumors he cheated during the relationship.
“Nope, never cheated,” Cutler maintained. “I guess she fell out of love or it was toxic. I mean, depends on the day I guess. I’m not for sure what she said, and I frankly don’t care what she said. Like I said, it’s been 2½ years. We’re done here. And I’m sure there will be a rebuttal to this, so stay tuned for that one.”
Earlier this year, Cavallari reflected on her history of dating athletes on her podcast, “Back to the Beach with Kristin and Stephen.”
In addition to Cutler, the 36-year-old has also dated former NFL quarterback Matt Leinart and an unnamed hockey player.
“Here’s my deal,” she told her co-host and former co-star Stephen Colletti, “I dated a hockey player. You know, for me, now in my life where I’m at, it’s more about schedules. So baseball, they’re gone all the time. Basketball, they’re gone all the time. Football’s reasonable. Hockey, they’re gone a lot, but you know, it’s doable.”
She said she had no plans to add another sports pro to her dating history.
“To be honest I, I don’t want to say anything I’m gonna end up regretting, but I don’t think I want to date another athlete,” she admitted. “I’ve done that. … I want to leave that in the past.”
In the meantime, Cavallari has said that she’s “attracting a lot of married men.”
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On Rachel Bilson’s “Broad Ideas” podcast, the reality star said she believes “everything you attract is more like spiritually whatever you’re going through or ready for.”
“Clearly, I’m not ready for a relationship because I’m attracting all these unavailable men,” she added.
Aaron Rodgers & Shailene Woodley
In February 2021, it was confirmed “Big Little Lies” star and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers were dating. Rodgers announced they were engaged later that same month.
A year later, they announced the end of their engagement.
In an interview in January with Net-a-Porter, Woodley described the previous year as the “darkest” time in her life.
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“It was hard to film because I was going through the darkest, hardest time in my life; it was winter in New York, and my personal life was s—ty, so it felt like a big pain bubble for eight months,” Woodley told the outlet.
She also shared that the relationship changed her view on social media because the pair posted more frequently during that time, including appearing in an Instagram Live Q&A.
“It honestly never really hit me that millions of people around the world were actually watching these things and paid attention to them,” the “Divergent” actress shared. “Then, I dated somebody in America who was very, very famous. It was the first time that I’d had a quote-unquote ‘famous’ relationship, and I watched [the] scrutiny, opinions, the desire for people to know my life and his life and our life.”
On his Instagram at the time of the breakup, Rodgers thanked Woodley for “always having my back, for the incredible kindness you show me and everyone you meet, and for showing me what unconditional love looks like, I love you and am grateful for you.”
Sources also told People at the time, “It was an amicable split; it just wasn’t working. They’re very different people with busy careers, and there were obstacles that they couldn’t surmount. They will remain friendly; there’s no bad blood and no drama. It just didn’t work out for them.”
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Jessica Simpson & Tony Romo
Jessica Simpson began dating Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in 2007, after she and her ex-husband Nick Lachey divorced.
Fans were not kind to Simpson, often blaming her for Romo’s poor performances in games.
The couple spoke with Vanity Fair in 2009 before their breakup about the negative attention.
“We don’t let it affect our relationship,” Simpson said. “If we did, we wouldn’t be together because it happened at the very beginning. Dating the Cowboys quarterback comes with hype — the fans, the bloggers — but I’ve never dated a guy that was more simple. I’m always there for him after a game, and he knows he has me to come home to.”
Romo also gave his opinion on the controversy.
“She comes to a ton of games,” Romo said. “She’s a supportive girlfriend. You know, it’s very hard when you lose because games are important, and so many people put so much time and effort in. It’s nice to have someone to come home to and try to make you feel better.”
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Still, the romance ended in 2009, amid reports that Simpson’s drinking was affecting the relationship.
In 2020, Simpson published her memoir, “Open Book,” in which she discussed the viral mom jeans moment that drove her increased alcohol consumption at the time.
In an interview with Hoda Kotb on “Today,” she had nothing but kind words for Romo, who she was still in a relationship with at the time of the viral moment.
“I think that that comes from other relationships,” she said of how it impacted her self-image. “Tony never made me feel that way. I always felt confident when I was with Tony. I was taken down by the world.”
Simpson eventually went on to date — and married — former NFL player, Eric Johnson. The pair tied the knot in 2014 and share three children.
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Holly Robinson Peete & Rodney Peete
Holly Robinson Peete has been with her husband, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, since they married in 1995 after he proposed on the set of her series, “Hanging with Mr. Cooper.” The couple have four children, 25-year-old twins Ryan Elizabeth Peete and Rodney Peete, Jr., and sons Robinson, 20, and Roman, 17.
Holly shared her thoughts with Fox News Digital on maintaining a relationship with an athlete.
“When Rodney retired, you know, he didn’t have all the accolades and all the money or all the bells and whistles that Tom [Brady] had. But I know I needed him home,” Peete said. “Like I had raised these kids, I needed him home. And I just don’t know what I would have done if he would be like, I’m quitting now. I’m going back.
“I do know, just as an NFL wife, how hard it is to raise these kids, and I had my own career that I had to like, you know, I was still working, but the bulk of the parenting fell on me, taking the kids to school, going to the recitals and all those things.”
As for the secret to their 27-year marriage?
“I feel like it’s really just about fighting for what’s important, really establishing early on in your relationship,” she said. “What are your goals? What do you want in life? Are you going to help me get where I want to get? Is getting where I want to get going to get in your way?
“We’re always very supportive of each other, and it’s a partnership. And does it change and does it ebb and flow over the years? Absolutely. But what is really important? Do we fight for the things that we want together? Do we support each other or do we just walk away because we don’t think it’s worth fighting for?”
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“I think, in the end, the secret sauce is just really being on the same page and supporting each other’s dreams,” the 58-year-old concluded.
In September 2022, Rodney wished his wife a happy birthday on his Instagram that echoed Peete’s comments.
“Thank You for Always showing up for me and our family. I’ve loved you for more than half of my time on earth and I will continue loving you and honoring you forever and ever! You make me better, baby!!”
Jessie James & Eric Decker
Country music star Jessie James Decker married NFL wide receiver Eric Decker in 2013 when he was playing for the Denver Broncos. The couple share three kids together: Vivianne Rose, 7, along with sons Eric “Bubby” Thomas II, 6, and Forrest Bradley, 3.
In October 2022, Decker spoke with Fox News Digital, sharing the secret to her 10-year marriage to the football star.
“I’ve been really lucky to be able to bring Eric, bring the kids, whenever it makes sense for our schedules. And so we’re rarely apart that long,” Jessie said. “We’ve got a day rule where three days is like the absolute limit. Even though a couple of weeks ago, during the second week, it was a little bit longer. And I definitely struggled with that.
“We’re fortunate,” she added. “We get to really be together and, you know, music is family, and I’ve just been really blessed with that. As soon as Eric retired, I was able to start working, and it was his turn to be a support system for me. So, we’ve been really blessed with that.”
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Ciara & Russell Wilson
Singer Ciara and Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson began dating in 2015 and married at a castle in England in 2016. Wilson is stepfather to Ciara’s son from her previous relationship with rapper Future and father to the couple’s two children.
The couple was open about choosing to be abstinent until their wedding.
In a 2019 interview with InStyle, Ciara said “that took a lot of prayer” to maintain, adding, “It was hard. I can’t lie.”
Before that, in a 2017 interview with Cosmopolitan South Africa, she shared they enjoyed friendship and the importance of being on the same page as a couple.
“I have to give credit to my husband for sharing those views,” she told the outlet at the time. “It’s awesome how it all worked out.”
They’ve remained in sync during nearly seven years of marriage.
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“From day one, we talked about the power of being equally yoked,” the “Level Up” singer told E! News earlier this month. “What I mean by that is being aligned on pretty much every aspect of your lives.”
She also cited their shared faith as being a central competent of their lives.
“That spiritual foundation is huge for us,” the 37-year-old said. “Being able to pray together is beautiful.”
They regularly share social media posts dedicated to each other.
On Valentine’s Day, Wilson posted a photo of the couple with the caption, “My Forever Valentine. You have brought me unconditional love & joy since the moment we met. You are Heaven on Earth.”
“These are couples who are totally in sync and aligned with each other,” Conti explained of the above couples’ success. “These couples have mastered the difficult balance of prioritizing their relationship and understanding the demands of an athletic career.”
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“It’s very possible to have success in this kind of relationship, but it does take strong communication skills, consistent check-ins and a mindset of mutual growth and understanding.”