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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady throws against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 25 in Tampa, Fla.The Associated Press

Turns out the last thing left on Tom Brady’s career checklist was not another football trophy. It’s to make the rest of us feel sorry for him.

If all pro athletes lead charmed lives, Brady’s has been supernatural. Perfect backstory. Up by his bootstraps (while someone else held the boots). Starts a dynasty. Best in the world by his late 20s. Best in history by his late 30s.

Makes money. Marries a bunch more. Seems to age backward. So Teflon that he endorses Donald Trump and everyone pretends it never happened.

Were you to write it this way, an editor would send it back. Not believable.

Retires at 45, then unretires six weeks later? What do you think this is – the Lifetime network? Come back when you’ve stopped writing fantasy.

Maybe that’s how Brady sees it. It would explain the wild, apparently mood-based, professional shifts. I’m never leaving New England! I’ve left New England! I wanted to be closer to family! I’m too busy doing push-ups for family! I’m thinking about retiring! I’m retiring! I’m retiring from retirement! As soon as you fire the coach! Let’s celebrate by having a single nacho!

Brady acts as though the NFL is a summer camp he can slip in and out of based on which friend has invited him to the cottage that weekend. Everyone else nodded along as if that made total sense. Some athletes use stardom to bend their employers. Brady pretzelled two multibillion-dollar football clubs, and made sure to embarrass them as much as possible while doing it.

But he has finally met his equal – and it’s not time. I expect Tom Brady to be starting high school again when I’m getting unhooked from the respirator.

It’s his wife, Gisele Bundchen.

This hasn’t been a good year for Brady, and the football isn’t going so hot either.

In training camp, the rumours were coming at you like a cauldron of bats. You couldn’t avoid them even if you don’t care about any of these people.

Gisele isn’t happy. Gisele’s left the house. Tom’s got the kids. Tom needs time off during training camp. Tom is bad, but he’s no cheater.

“They had agreed he would retire to focus on family, then he changed his mind,” an “insider” told the New York Post. “They have a fiery relationship. Gisele is a bit hot-headed – she has that Brazilian heat!”

A source who has all the inside dope on the Bundchen/Brady marriage and thinks Gisele is the absolute coolest? God, I wonder who that could be?

Until a few weeks ago, I thought the smoothest operator in sports was one of those superagents you hear about after some muppet with two left hands signs a nine-figure contract. Rich Paul, Jorge Mendes, Scott Boras. One of those guys.

Now I realize it is Pantene spokesperson Gisele Bundchen. The rest of us, including Tom Brady, are playing checkers. She is playing tabloid chess.

Not that you’d blame her. For coming up on 20 years, Bundchen’s been pretending to care about football. It may not be a con, but it sure is long.

She put the biggest modelling career in history on hold so that her husband could hang out with his pals at the gym. As you may know, you don’t exactly age into modelling.

All the things that looked like blessings for Brady must have been annoyances of various sizes for Bundchen.

Tom Brady leaves tanking New England and gets picked up by the rising Buccaneers? Great for Brady. Now his wife has to move to Tampa Bay.

Have you been to Tampa Bay? When you’ve got money and options, voluntarily moving to Florida should qualify as one of the five miracles they use to determine sainthood.

Bundchen held down the fort while Brady won his final Super Bowl. She continued to do so for another year while he had a victory lap. She listened to him make personal hay out of how hard it’s been for him, Tom Brady, to miss all the little moments. Then she watched him unretire.

You’d be annoyed, too, if only because of the endless game of footsie that seems to be Brady’s way of reminding himself he matters. Every time people start losing interest in Brady, he tells someone he’s thinking of leaving. He was at it again a couple of weeks ago.

“I think there comes a point in your life where you say, you know what? I had my fill and it’s enough and time to go on,” Brady told his own podcast.

Is that my cue to feel bad for you? Because you had 20 years on top, were feted like a God and, once gone, will slip seamlessly into broadcasting and get a huge raise?

Yeah, I got these working-class single moms over here who don’t get much attention from ESPN. I’ll have to get back to you, man.

This travelling sob story was well under way before things started to go sideways. The only way Brady can justify his ‘just kidding’ this season is if he has an MVP-calibre year and the Buccaneers win a title. Neither thing is going to happen.

Last week, Brady – once famously imperturbable – was making news for smashing tablets on the sidelines. This weekend, he faces Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City. Someone better take all the flat-screen TVs out of the Bucs’ players lounge.

Tampa’s not going to give up on him. Everyone would look maximally stupid if that happened. But Brady’s not going to get to play coy for another off-season. He has finally passed the point where his talent is equal or greater than the trouble it takes to keep him happy. Odds are he will quit while he is still playing. This time, no one’s writing an obit. It’ll be a news brief.

This is the problem with being a golden boy. Nobody tells you when you’ve become a golden bore. You have to find out the hard way.

The bright side of this is how well it will work as the third act of Brady’s treacly biopic. Not age, injury, or good sense could bring down this avatar of 21st-century manhood. And then he pushed his wife too far.