A surprising report dropped earlier this morning from Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com detailing the apparent rift between long-time Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and franchise-changing quarterback Tom Brady. Since then, those men along with owner Robert Kraft have released a statement pushing back on the reports that the leader of his football team and legendary signal caller are currently on bad terms.
“For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship. In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate. The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years. It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united.”
It seemed reasonable that the Patriots would come out in some way considering the many shocking revelations that were published about the two key members of the franchise. The Patriots have made it a habit of shifting focus away from distractions and to next week’s opponent. That sentiment will be pushed to the test next weekend even if the three men have provided a statement that the report released today is false.
- Out of the three key members of the organization, it would seem that Belichick would be the most likely to leave if the feelings reported within the Pats power structure are true, opines Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. Breer outlines that obviously the owner is not going anywhere and with Brady still playing MVP caliber football without a true successor behind him, it would be difficult to see the team moving on from him either. He notes that Belichick is 65 years old and clearly didn’t want to trade Jimmy Garoppolo as he reports that the team flat out told potential bidders the young backup “wasn’t available” when trade talk swirled during last year’s NFL Draft. Breer summarizes that the Patriots latest moves to trade Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett this season don’t jive with Belichick’s thoughtful style in which he builds for now and the future. This could be foreshadowing that should the bombshell report turn out to have a lot of truth to it, then it seems the five-time Super Bowl winning head coach could move on from the team before his quarterback.
- However, there was no mandate to trade Garoppolo midseason, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Florio of PFT. This news completely contradicts Wickersham’s reporting that Brady “won” in convincing Kraft to trade Garoppolo against the wishes of his head coach. Florio continues that the team instead pushed their backup to take an “under the bridge” type deal that would pay him “very well to be a backup and then starter money”. The reporter also speculates that if a mandate was given, it would have come during this past offseason when teams were offering better picks for Garoppolo.
- Another factor in this story was the relationship between the Patriots and Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero. According to this morning’s story, many players felt uncomfortable if they rejected to use Brady’s “TB12” training program to use team doctors. This allegedly contributed to the uncomfortable feeling around the locker room. Guerrero has since released a statement in response to the report in which he basically defends his work with the Patriots and Tom Brady over the years. Read the full statement here via Doug Kyed of NESN.com.