Last night, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham published an explosive piece on the crumbling relationship between Patriots franchise QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. According to Wilkerson, Brady, under the guidance of his fitness guru Alex Guerrero, has developed an affinity for positive thinking which doesn’t mesh well with Belichick’s critical persona.
For years, Brady stood as the perfect model for Belichick’s system, a future Hall of Famer who could withstand tough and biting coaching. Brady always knew the hits were coming during Monday morning film sessions — “The quarterback at Foxborough High could make that throw,” Belichick often would say after replaying a Brady misfire — but he could take it, secure not only in the knowledge of his singular impact on Belichick’s career but also in the theater of it all, that the coach was doing it in part to send a message that nobody was above criticism. “Tommy is fine with it,” his father, Tom Brady Sr., said years ago over dinner in San Mateo, California. “He’s the perfect foil for it.”
Brady is less fine with it this year. People close to him believe that it started after last year’s playoff win over the Houston Texans, in which Brady completed only 18 of 38 passes and threw two interceptions. Belichick lit into him in front of the entire team in a way nobody had ever seen, ripping Brady for carelessness with the ball. “This will get us beat,” he told the team after replaying a Brady interception. “We were lucky to get away with a win.”
At the same time, as his age has increased, Brady has become an advocate of positive thinking. Belichick’s negativity and cynicism have gotten old, Brady has told other Patriots players and staff. He feels he has accomplished enough that he shouldn’t have to endure so much grief. Patriots staffers have noticed that, this year more than ever, he seems to volley between unwavering confidence and driving insecurity. Brady has noted to staff a few times this year that, no matter how many game-changing throws he makes, Belichick hasn’t awarded him Patriot of the Week all year.
That’s right, Brady: the best quarterback to ever live, the man with a fistful of rings, two NFL MVP awards — and possibly a third on the way, four Super Bowl MVPs, the supermodel wife, and a sugar-diet is legitimately upset about being slighted for Patriot of the Week honors.
NOBODY IS BUDGING now. Kraft, Brady and Belichick were supposed to meet in late December to clear the air, but that never happened. It probably won’t until after the season. Those interviewed describe a lingering sadness around the team, as if coaches and staff know that the end might be near. Both McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are expected to become head coaches; other assistant coaches might leave to join their staffs or for college jobs, or even retire. The imminent exodus raises the question going forward: Is it possible that Belichick would rather walk away than try to rebuild the staff with a 41-year-old Brady and another year of Guerrero drama — all while trying to develop a new quarterback?
It’s pretty crazy that one of the greatest dynasties in sports history is going down the tubes because in such a public way. Of course, the Patriots could win the Super Bowl again this year and all will be good between Brady and Belichick.