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Bill Belichick denies refusing to meet Tom Brady upon exit from Patriots, says relationship with QB is 'good'

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Bill Belichick walked up to the podium inside Gillette Stadium on Wednesday with a smile.

“What's going on? Any stories this week?”

Belichick’s smile widened before diving into his nine-minute news conference, which took place about an hour before the Patriots' first practice of the week. The Patriots coach has been through this routine frequently throughout his storied career, but this is a little different as Belichick and the Patriots will take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday night.

Belichick praised Brady several times over the course of his first in-person press conference of the week. The coach even fought back against reports his relationship with the quarterback deteriorated and took a shot at Seth Wickersham's upcoming Patriots book, "It's Better to Be Feared."

Brady heads to Gillette Stadium for the first time as a visiting player, and Belichick said he’s never surprised by anything his former star player accomplishes.

“Yeah, nothing Tom does surprises me. He's a great player. Works hard, takes care of himself,” Belichick said. “He talks about playing until 50. I mean, if anybody can do it, he probably can.”

OPINION: Tom Brady returns to New England looking better than Bill Belichick since breakup

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and  quarterback Tom Brady (12) before the game against The New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady (12) before the game against The New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Here’s what Belichick sees from Brady this season

Brady heads into this contest leading the NFL in passing touchdowns (10) while ranking second in passing yards (1,087). He’s 44-years-old and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. None of that surprises Belichick, who nearly laughed when asked if Brady was a tough quarterback to defend.

“Do I consider him a tough quarterback to defend? Is that the question? Yeah. He’s as tough as any quarterback there is or ever has been. Enough said,” Belichick said. “His numbers are incredible. He’s about to pass the all-time passing record. He's done more than any other player at that position in whatever measurement you want to take, whether it’s yards, completions, touchdowns, championships. You know, you name it, so put anything out there you want. It doesn’t get tougher than him.”

Brady’s historic accomplishments throughout his 22 years in the NFL were not lost on Belichick as he plans to try and stop his former pupil.

“Yeah, I mean, Tom’s had an unbelievable career,” Belichick said. “There’s not enough superlatives and adjectives to compliment him on everything that he's achieved and continues to achieve so it's unbelievably impressive.”

Belichick addresses Patriots book

It doesn’t appear that everything was always rosy between Belichick and Brady.

Last week, the quarterback’s father, Tom Brady Sr., said Belichick didn’t want his son anymore and the family feels vindicated by Brady’s Super Bowl win in Tampa Bay. The next day, Brady’s trainer, friend and business partner, Alex Guerrero, took aim at how Belichick treated Brady like a younger player and said the Patriots didn’t evolve with the quarterback.

On Wednesday morning, excerpts from Wickersham's book "It's Better to Be Feared" revealed that Brady no longer wanted to play for Belichick and wanted to leave New England back in 2017. On top of that, when Brady decided to leave the Patriots, the book states Belichick refused to meet the quarterback in person.

However, Belichick denied that.

“No, that's not true,” Belichick said. “I heard a few things about you know this book and it sounds like it's a lot of second, third, fourth hand comments so. But I'm not gonna get into that. I’m going to focus on this game.”

As it pertains to his relationship with Brady, Belichick said, “I think it's good. It's always been good.”

In regards to Brady’s departure, the Patriots coach wasn’t willing to dive into the reasons why the quarterback left New England.

“Yeah, I’d say all that's in the past,” Belichick said. “Right now we're looking forward to the game.”

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Bill Belichick denies refusing to meet Tom Brady upon Patriots exit