Bill Belichick and Tom Brady formed the most successful coach-quarterback relationship in the history of the NFL, and now neither party can wait for it to end, judging from a new book on Belichick from ESPN’s Ian O’Connor.
In a summary of “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time” from ESPN, Brady reportedly was not sure he wanted to return to the New England Patriots this season and feels “trapped” with Belichick. As one source from the book puts it, Brady has “had enough” and would “divorce” Belichick if he had the chance.
It’s a situation that wouldn’t be surprising, as Brady and Belichick’s relationship has been publicly fraught for months.
The power struggle behind the Jimmy Garropolo trade, Brady’s relationship with Alex Guerrero and Belichick’s critical handling of a future Hall of Famer are well known, but the book lays out some other factors behind the unhappiness in Foxborough.
Tom Brady was afraid of the Peyton Manning treatment
Some day, Brady will no longer be the quarterback of the Patriots. What we do not know is what the impetus for the true end of the Brady era will be.
As the book puts it, Brady was long afraid that he would face a fate similar to Peyton Manning.
According to the book, Brady’s family long felt Belichick would push out his longtime franchise player before he was ready to retire. Brady’s sister Nancy is quoted telling people that her brother believed “Belichick will definitely do to him someday what the Colts did to Peyton [Manning].”
While Garropolo is now in San Francisco and can no longer be the Andrew Luck to Brady’s Manning, it was and likely still is a point of tension between Brady and Belichick, and it now might be a reason why Brady feels trapped.
After the Garropolo trade, Tom Brady isn’t going anywhere
While the Garropolo trade meant Brady no longer had to be worried about being replaced on the Patriots, it also meant that he was locked in for the Patriots’ forseeable future. That might have been what Brady seemingly desired, but it also created an ugly truth that Brady would have had to face if he opted to retire or leave the Patriots this summer.
“The moment Belichick moved [Jimmy] Garoppolo to San Francisco, and banked on Brady’s oft-stated desire to play at least into his mid-forties, was the moment Brady was virtually locked into suiting up next season and beyond. Had he retired or requested a trade, he would have risked turning an adoring New England public into an angry mob.”
O’Connor reports that Brady wasn’t certain he wanted to return to the Patriots in late March, and the commitment he forced from Belichick might have been a major reason why he came back. That wouldn’t signal a healthy working relationship.
More deflate-gate fallout for Patriots
The book reports that Belichick had “serious doubts” over Brady’s claim that he had no involvement in the infamous deflate-gate scandal, and he did little to publicly protect Brady, at least in the quarterback’s eyes.
A close friend of Brady’s thought Belichick “hung him out to dry” and handled the situation “terribly.”
Does Belichick think Brady is replaceable?
Once source in the book reports that Brady still believes Belichick is the best coach in the league. The inverse, not so true.
One New England assistant said the general feeling among staff members around that time wasn’t that Belichick’s system could make Super Bowl quarterbacks out of all 32 NFL starters. “But if you gave us any of the top 15, we could do it,” the assistant said. “I don’t think the coaches view Tom as special as everyone else in football does. Mr. Kraft thinks Tom is the greatest gift ever, but the coaches don’t.”
Again, not a signal of a healthy relationship if one side thinks the other is completely replaceable.
That all adds up to a bad position for Brady. He seems to want to leave on his own terms, but face none of the blowback of a voluntary exit would incur in the immediate future. He seems to want to be the face of the Patriots dynasty, but he isn’t doing that with Belichick still running the team. Maybe Brady will eventually outlast Belichick in Foxborough, but right now it doesn’t look like a clean break is in the cards for the pair.
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