CLEARWATER, Fla. – It's a relationship between two of the biggest superstars in American sports.
One is still on top of his game at age 41.
The other wants to be on top of his game when he's that age.
Bryce Harper and Tom Brady.
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Not buddies in the typical hang-out-and-have-a-cold-one kind of way. In truth, they've never met each other in person, nor have they ever actually spoken to each other.
But the two stars do communicate fairly regularly via text message. Harper sent a congratulatory text after Brady won his sixth Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in February. A month later, Brady reached out after Harper signed his $330-million deal with the Phillies.
The relationship between the two men started a couple of years ago when Harper reached out to Brady on Instagram.
"I love watching the NFL," Harper said. "Seeing the type of person he is, the type of player and teammate he is, the type of work ethic he has -- I just wanted to get to know him.
"You see what he does on a daily basis, how he goes about it, his life on and off the field, how he takes care of his body, a family man like he is – he's somebody I want to follow, somebody you look at and try to understand how he got to that point, how he keeps doing it, how he maintains it."
Harper, 26, broke into the majors when he was 19 and wants to play – productively – into his 40s, like Brady has. Part of Harper's motivation in initially reaching out to Brady was to pick up a few tips on that. Brady has been generous in sharing his wisdom with Harper. The two men communicate about exercise programs, diet and other keys to competitive success.
"He's given me advice on conditioning and I try to incorporate that into my workouts," Harper said. "The big thing is you have to find out what works for you. Pliability is huge for me. Pilates really works for me. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I'm in there with pregnant women doing Pilates with them."
Harper has a copy of Brady's cookbook, The TB12 Nutritional Manual, and uses many recipes from it.
"Eating right is huge," Harper said. "He signed one of his cookbooks for me and I follow that. Dairy-free. Avocado ice cream."
Huh? Dairy-free? Didn't Harper recently reach out to Phillies fans on social media and ask where he could find the best ice cream in Philadelphia?
"Yeah, I cheat now and then," he said with a laugh. "But I do try stay away from a lot of that stuff so my body doesn't break down."
Harper has his diet analyzed every offseason.
"I don't eat quinoa because it's a big inflammatory for me," he said.
His personal superfood?
"Kale," he said.
Harper has only seen Brady in person one time; he was in the stands in Phoenix when Brady led the Patriots to victory in Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015.
"I'd love to meet him," Harper said.
Hmm. The Phillies will be in Boston in August.
"I've already let him know that," Harper said.
If a meeting takes place, maybe these two buddies can hang out and have a cold one.
Uh, scratch that idea.
Harper doesn't drink. Never has.
"My body is my temple," he said. "Everyone talks about the money. But, for me, I wanted years, I wanted to play this game for a long time and build roots somewhere. For me, a 13-year deal was huge. I have to be able to prolong my career and prolong my body and that starts with what I do now."
Tom Brady would offer a thumbs-up emoji to that.
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