New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady is known as one of the best players in NFL history.
In his 19 seasons in the league, the 41-year-old has appeared in 14 Pro Bowls and garnered six Super Bowl rings and three league MVP awards.
But despite his long list of accomplishments, he is still not the highest-paid player — or even highest-paid quarterback — in the league.
Currently, Brady makes an annual salary of $15 million per year, which makes him the 18th highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, according to NFL.com. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who recently signed a $140 million, four-year extension with his team, is currently the highest-paid player in the league.
In a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Brady explains why he's fine with his salary, despite his top-notch performance.
"I think the thing I've always felt for me in my life," he says, "winning has been a priority."
He jokes that his supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen, who earned $30.5 million in 2016 according to Forbes, makes enough money to offset his pay. But Brady says that he's comfortable taking a lower salary so the Patriots can afford more talent.
"You can only spend so much, and the more that one guy gets is less for others," he says, adding that from "a competitive advantage standpoint, I like to get a lot of good players around me."
Brady isn't the first professional athlete to leave money on the table in order to build a star-studded team. After winning the 2017 championship with the Golden State Warriors, two-time finals MVP player Kevin Durant took a reported $10 million pay cut when he agreed to a two-year, $25 million contract for the 2017-2018 season. That figure was $1.5 million less than he made the previous year, and $9.5 million less than he was eligible to receive.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr told Bay Area News Group that Durant's selfless decision reminded him of when former San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan took a pay cut to allow the team to bring on more star players.
"The way the league works, the way the [Collective Bargaining Agreement] works, it really kind of is up to the star player at key times to take a little haircut here and there," said Kerr. "Whether that's fair or not, I don't know. But I do know that Tim knew it was dramatically helping his own career, and [Durant] understands the same thing."
Brady and Durant's decisions have clearly paid off. This year, Brady made history when he collected his sixth Super Bowl ring with the Patriots. Meanwhile, Durant and the Warriors are aiming for their third straight NBA championship this year.
"The guy has already accomplished so much, he's the best out there," Brady's former teammate Rob Gronkowski told ESPN right before their Super Bowl win. "The way he competes, the way he prepares for the game, the way he practices every single week, it's just legendary. It makes him the greatest."
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