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It’s Very Clear: Tom Brady Is Done With Bill Belichick

It’s Very Clear: Tom Brady Is Done With Bill Belichick
  • Scott Engel

Tom Brady Has Made It Clear: He Doesn’t Want To Play For Bill Belichick Anymore

By Cam Giangrande

“I plead the fifth.” The last time a Patriot said words of greater consequence, was during the Revolutionary War, when patriot William Prescott said, “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes”, at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Tom Brady just fired a shot, aimed at Coach Bill Belichick, by giving his non-answer to interviewer Jim Gray at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills this week. Gray asked Brady if he felt appreciated for his efforts through the years as Patriots quarterback. Gray cited a piece in Brady’s six-part documentary, where his wife Gisele Bundchen said it’s tough when you’re not appreciated.

Instead of being his diplomatic self, Brady gave his cryptic response, “I plead the fifth”. He then followed it up by saying that it’s normal for people to always want to be more appreciated at their job. During the interview, Brady answered a question about the Super Bowl, by simply saying, “The season sucked”. When asked about why Belichick didn’t play cornerback Malcolm Butler, he simply said that he didn’t know why, and that he never asked, that it was a coaching decision. He elaborated about how it’s important for everyone to do their jobs, (a favorite quote by Belichick). He said that he can’t coach: it’s not his job. His job is to play to best of his ability to give his team the best chance to win, and that it’s the coach’s job to coach to the best of their ability to give the team the best chance to win. The insinuation was that he did give his team the best chance to win this past Super Bowl, but that his coach didn’t.

There has been constant speculation about the genesis of the Brady/Belichick rift; and if there actually is any rift. This interview left no doubt: there is rift the size of the Grand Canyon. Many cite Brady’s relationship with his personal trainer Alex Guerrero as the reason, but something that was said during the interview made it clear, the problems started long before Guerrero.

At one point during the interview Brady was talking about how he still intended to play into his mid 40s, (but never clarified whether it would be with the Patriots). He said he’s under contract for the next two seasons, and has already negotiated those two years with his wife, with the implication being he’ll play beyond that once he convinces Gisele, which he’ll undoubtedly do. Every other time Brady’s contract has gotten to this point, it’s been reworked to be more cap-friendly for the team to make other deals. Usually additional seasons get added to the contract. That isn’t happening now.

The question is, why? If Brady wants to play four or five more seasons and is only under contract for the next two; and the Patriots usually extend him to be more financially beneficial for them, why hasn’t it happened? It’s obvious: Brady is an honorable guy, and doesn’t want to hold out, or threaten to retire, or demand a trade. He’s willing to honor his contract. But what he doesn’t want to do is play under Belichick anymore. Being under contract, he has no choice but to play for the Pats the next two seasons under Belichick if owner Bob Kraft refuses to fire him. But beyond that time, I think all bets are off.

And this animosity against the coach began the night Belichick drafted Jimmy Garoppolo. In a roundabout way, Brady said as much during the interview. He mentioned how “people” say you can’t do the job anymore; around the time his was 36 or 37 years old. Belichick drafted Garoppolo in 2014 when Brady was 36, turning 37 in August of that year. Belichick answered a reporter when asked, “we all know the quarterback’s age and contract status”. If we could go back in time, we’d see that was the night Brady looked at his wife and said, screw him. To Belichick’s credit as an unintended benefit, Brady became a man possessed to prove him wrong, and all he’s done since is take the team to three more Super Bowls, winning two of them. Brady has said he now knows the answers to the test, and probably doesn’t think he needs to be coached in such a heavy-handed way: hence, not feeling “appreciated”.

Although Brady would never take his ball and go home, he’s not prepared to do any favors for the Patriots. Even though the owner stepped in and said Brady couldn’t be traded, and Belichick gave in and traded away Garoppolo, that hasn’t changed anything in Brady’s mind.

Where does it all end? At this point it can only end two ways, especially since the owner seems reluctant and not willing to fire Belichick: (no more than he would allow Brady to go). The first way it ends is that Brady plays under his current deal for the next two seasons, and tells Kraft he’ll re-sign with the team if Belichick is gone and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels ascends to be the head coach. The second way it ends is that Kraft is still unwilling to get rid of Belichick, and Brady leaves as a free agent because he has no intention of playing under him for a second longer than he has to. In that scenario, the Patriots could franchise him, but I think if it ever came to that, Brady would simply walk away.

The end is definitely near. This divorce will be prolonged and amicable for now, but as is the case in many relationships, familiarity breeds contempt, and things going forward will never be the same, and most likely get ugly at some point. For Patriots fans, they’ve had an unbelievable two-decade run. Hopefully Brady can muster a little more magic over the next couple of seasons before riding off to greener pastures.