Tom Brady is an athlete who needs no introduction. He is 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 in any organization ever. He won more games, passed for more yards and for more touchdowns than anyone ever.
Tom Brady did it all; he is an example of excellence and a poster child for longevity. But he wasn’t quite Perfect.
If there was one thing Tom Brady lacked, it was speed. On the eve of his iconic career, at the 2000 NFL scouting combine, he was timed as the second-slowest of the 18 quarterbacks in attendance.
Once drafted by New England, he would gain some speed, but not much; mainly, Brady won games with his mind, his arm and his willpower. If it ever looked like his cleats were smoking, it would have been due to some sort of pyrotechnic residue from the pregame festivities and nothing to do with the speed at which he advanced the ball.
Brady was able to laugh it off; after bursting through a gap in the Miami Dolphins defense in 2014, the then-Patriots quarterback posted a tongue-in-cheek video edited to the “Chariots of Fire” theme tune, the footage of his run interspersed 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 maybe he wished to be.
“Well, I’ve been known for speed all my life,” he joked to CNN Sport, the width of his smile betraying the extent of his irony, “so it’s very normal and natural for me to think about speed!”
That’s how Brady revealed exclusively to CNN in a recent interview that his return to competitive sports after retiring from the NFL earlier this year will be through the new E1 series, the first electric racing boat championship.
“If I couldn’t run that fast, I’d better figure out a vehicle that could move fast!” laughed Brady.
Tom Brady joins the UIM E1 World Championship as a team owner for the world’s first racing boat championship
In 2024, Brady will line up as a team owner in the E1 series, hoping to turn heads on the coast and change our attitudes towards renewable energy and water pollution.
Races scheduled so far will take in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, then Venice, Monaco and Rotterdam in Europe. The organizers are already looking at future series in North America and Asia, with Miami, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Macau and Tokyo as possible venues.
According to the co-founder of the E1 series, Alejandro Agag, who has already created electric car championships with Formula E and Extreme E, the goal is “to be able to decarbonize lakes, rivers and ultimately the sea. We saw that there was a demand in the market to become cleaner in the water.”
“[This] championship is a platform to develop technology that can then be used on regular boats that people use every day,” Agag added.
Brady can’t wait to get started. “I ended my football career and wanted to stay very involved in competitive sports,” explained the former quarterback. “Being down in this great climate here in Florida, I got into the sailing culture and I’ve always loved racing.”
It is clear that he has already been seduced by the sleek and futuristic design of the ‘RaceBird’ boats, which rise out of the water on their twin hydrofoils to travel at speeds of up to 93 km/h (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 want to be on one of those as soon as I can.”
But he is quick to point out that he will not be one of the drivers on race days. “No!” he chuckled and waved his hand to emphasize the point. “No way! Our team will be much better served by having a real pro in there. I’ll be a good cheerleader when it comes to racing.”
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Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots runs onto the field before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Brady isn’t the first athlete to sign up for the E1 project; other team owners come from other sports around the world where they have achieved their own legendary status and there is still room for more to join.
Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba, a Champions League and Premier League winner from Ivory Coast, is involved along with 22-time grand slam tennis champion Rafael Nadal of Spain. Another team will be led by Mexican F1 star Sergio Pérez.
Agag admits their involvement is essential to finding and growing an audience. “These sports personalities are literally and figuratively coming on board,” he explained.
In Formula 1, many of the drivers are well-known names globally, but this is not the case in powerboats.
“We thought we should have big figures as team owners who will help us capture the public’s attention and compete against each other as team owners,” Agag added.
“It’s a new idea; there is no other sport where tennis players, F1 drivers, football and soccer stars would be able to battle each other 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 have known Didier for a while; he has been a long-time friend, an incredible player and also a great humanitarian. My mom has been the biggest tennis fan, so I’ve been watching tennis since I was two years old. Rafa is clearly a great competitor, I think his will to win is second to none. So Rafa is someone I look up to and admire.
“We’re all very competitive people and we want to make sure we’re on top when it’s all said and done.”
Agag says 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.
“Brady is a great leader,” Agag told CNN, describing a meeting where it felt like he was “in the locker room, a member of a team and ready to win the game, no matter what game we’re going to play.
“To me, he’s a very, very impressive person. And we’re so lucky to have him.”
Harry How/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Legendary quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement after 23 seasons in the NFL earlier this year.
Brady himself believes that the leadership skills he honed on the football field can easily be transferred 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 level of discipline where everyone works together to achieve a goal. There’s a very level playing field in this sport. We’re going to have to find ways to get an edge in the competition and it’s going to be a very fun journey,” said the former 45-year-old quarterback.
After retiring from the NFL in 2021, Brady returned for another season with Tampa Bay, but confirmed that he definitely will not return to the gridiron this time.
“I’ve done my share in pro football,” Brady said. “I love looking forward to the amazing things ahead of me and different ways 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 bring a lot of awareness to future generations, as well as maintain my very competitive instincts.”