The Patriots were saddled with new challenges at the start of the 2016 season, with Tom Brady suspended for the first four games following the Deflategate ruling. But away from the field, the quarterback and his family were rallying around their very own MVP, matriarch Galynn Brady, who had been diagnosed with cancer in June of that year.
“I remember getting a call, I don’t remember exactly when but there were some concerns that she had ’cause she wasn’t feeling great for a period of time,” Brady recalled on Tuesday’s episode of the ESPN+ docuseries “Man in the Arena,” where he was joined by older sisters Maureen, Julie and Nancy.
“She was going in for a little checkup, where they found out she had breast cancer, and she also got myeloma,” Julie, the second oldest sibling, recounted. “The breast cancer she had to start getting treatment right away.”
Nancy, the Bradys’ third daughter, added that “there was a lot of pain during that time,” speculating that mom Gaylnn “probably internalized a lot of things” amid her son’s Deflategate drama.
“I think to see my mom watch my brother go through this experience, feel for him, and empathize with him. There was a lot of pain during that time, a lot of stress during that time and, you know, wanting to protect her baby, she probably internalized a lot of things,” Nancy said.
With Brady sidelined for the first four games of the NFL season, the quarterback put the focus on his family, especially with Galynn readying to start chemotherapy.
“I think, personally, that was very difficult for her to see her son kind of raked through the coals like I was,” Brady said. “So we wanted to really support her and we all decided as a family we were all gonna go golf at Pebble Beach [in California].”
It was during the family outing that Brady says he had “one of the greatest highlights” of his life, which took place on the 18th hole of the course.
“My wife [Gisele Bündchen] was walking out with my daughter Vivian. I had my nieces and nephews running up and down the fairway on the 18th. The Pacific Ocean’s on the left, waves are crashing and I was reflecting and having some perspective on the situation and realizing that this is what matters most,” Brady said. “Being with my family at a very vulnerable time. I was gonna do my best to forget about football for a little bit and catch up on some other aspects of my life.”
When Brady did return to the field, the Patriots went on a run and met the Falcons in Houston for Super Bowl 51. Galynn made the trip to Houston and watched her son get his fifth Super Bowl ring after New England came back from a 28-3 deficit.
“You know, that year had its challenging aspects and the way that it culminated with us all being together. After the game with my mom, just, you know, giving her a big hug, and my dad and everyone was crying. It was just a really emotional time,” Brady said. “We won the game, but my mom won, too. My family won, too.”