According to the Boston Globe, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick recently stripped trainer Alex Guerrero of many of his team privileges.
Guerrero, who is well-known for his connection with quarterback Tom Brady and the TB12 method, previously enjoyed a seat on the team plane, game day credentials, and the ability to work with several members of the Patriots organization.
But the Globe‘s Bob Hohler reports that “Guerrero is now banned from boarding Patriots jets. His sideline access has been revoked. And he no longer is permitted to treat players other than Brady in his exclusive office at Gillette Stadium.”
Belichick declined to explain the reasoning behind Guerrero’s diminished status. While some may be wondering if an individual incident sparked the “restoration of tradition,” the changes have seemingly been brewing for quite some time.
Here’s what you need to know about the situation:
The origins of Guerrero and Brady’s relationship
Guerrero grew up in California and studied traditional Chinese medicine at the now-defunct Samra University of Oriental Medicine. After earning his degree, he opened his own practice in Los Angeles — focusing on sports injury rehabilitation and nutrition. Per Brady’s book, the TB12 Method, Guerrero began working at his facility in 1996 and started flying across the country to work with specific players soon after. Some of his former clients include retired Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, retired Patriots cornerback Ty Law, and retired Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest.
McGinest recommended Brady meet with Guerrero after noticing his teammate was taking more and more time off from practice during the 2004 season.
“He came east for six days every month to work with Willie and other players,” Brady wrote. “On one of those trips, the two of us met up at Willie’s house.”
Early on in their relationship, Guerrero introduced Brady to many of the customs he now passionately swears by, including holistic medicine and pliability. The pair saw each other for two days every other week during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, which seems rather infrequent compared to their current schedule of four meetings per week. Brady cited the recovery from his season-ending ACL tear in 2008 as an experience that “really cemented” their friendship, setting the stage for everything that has transpired since.
“Over time, we developed a set of principles that have become the foundation of my performance training,” Brady wrote. “The TB12 Method that Alex and I developed allows me to feel, play, and perform every week at levels as high as — or higher than — they were back when I was first given the opportunity to step onto the field as the Patriots’ quarterback.
Brady has credited the 52-year-old with changing his perspective on the traditional model of strength and conditioning, which he believes has, in turn, prolonged his playing career. Together, they opened the TB12 Sports Therapy Center at Patriot Place in September 2013. Guerrero’s business card at the Foxborough facility reads “co-founder.”
Despite his involvement with Brady, Guerrero has never been an official employee of New England’s medical and training staff. Other than confirming that Guerrero does not work for the Patriots, Belichick typically does not have much to say about his role with the team.
The origins of Guerrero and the Patriots’ drama
The Globe revealed in 2015 that a number of staff members on the Patriots’ medical and training team had complained to Belichick not only about Guerrero’s alternative approach to health, but also about his controversial background.
Guerrero was sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission for marketing “Supreme Greens,” a supplement that he falsely claimed could help reverse the diagnoses of terminally ill patients. According to the complaint filed by the FTC, he promoted the product as “an effective treatment, cure, and preventative for cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.” He also purported to be a doctor multiple times and was previously investigated for practicing physical therapy without a license.
According to Hohler, Belichick’s response to the complaints was: “Tom wants him. What am I supposed to do?”
As for why he has now opted to take a stand, nearly two years later, Hohler speculated the move could be to “reduce some tension in the workplace.” Prior to Belichick’s reported decision to cut down on Guerrero’s privileges, rumors of a potential rift between the trainer and the team had continued to rumble.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared on WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan on Friday that he had “heard whispers about that sort of thing.”
“There’s some sort of issue,” Schefter said on the radio program. “I truly do not know the extent of it. I don’t know how long it has been brewing or the history of it. Clearly, there’s something there. But I don’t know what to make of it, to be honest with you.”
Although Schefter was unsure about the magnitude of the growing issue, he confirmed that talk of it had been buzzing throughout the season.
“It is not the first time it has been brought to my attention,” he said. “But I don’t have extensive knowledge of it to say, ‘Boy this is a big deal,’ or ‘This is not a big deal.'”
Schefter was not the only member of the media to note that there might be trouble in New England. In October, ESPN’s Tom Junod and Seth Wickersham wrote there’s reportedly “a collision coming” between Belichick and Guerrero.
“Brady has found himself in the middle of a conflict between the Patriots and Guerrero,” read the story. “With Guerrero blaming the team’s trainers for injuries some of his clients have suffered and with Belichick making it resoundingly clear that Guerrero has no actual role on his staff.”
When asked about the story during a weekly radio appearance, Belichick called the claims “fake news.”
“As usual, I think a lot of comments that were in the article you’re referring to aren’t attributed to anybody — if I am not mistaken,” Belichick said on WEEI’s “Dale & Holley with Keefe. “I don’t think anybody said anything. This is just a general random opinion about I’m not sure exactly what.”
“If we would like to talk about somebody that has an informed opinion about something, that’s one thing,” he continued. “I mean, otherwise we’re just talking about a lot of fake news here, just putting out a lot of things that are unattributable as usual. I’d say we get a lot of that.”
Wickersham, however, told Boston.com that he stands by what was written.
Tom Brady neglected to comment on the matter when asked recently about the rumored divide between his guru and his coach. He did not comment on why Guerrero has not been traveling with the team, either. He did, however, express gratitude for Guerrero’s efforts.
“I’m so fortunate to have him not only as a friend, but everything that we’ve been able to do together,” he said on WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan on Monday. “It takes a lot of people for an NFL player to achieve in your career — teammates, coaches, family, and support and friends. Alex has been a huge, huge reason why I’m still playing. I’m grateful for him.”
Which other Patriots does Guerrero treat?
While the Globe did not determine the exact number of players Guerrero has treated, the Boston Sports Journal‘s Greg Bedard estimates he works with 20 Patriots. Under Belichick’s new rules, players will be permitted to continue working with Guerrero if they individually seek out his services at the TB12 center. Only Brady can be treated out of his private office at Gillette Stadium.
A few of Brady’s teammates have also gone on the record to share their experiences.
Over the summer, before his season-ending knee injury, Edelman said during OTAs that he thought his work with Guerrero played”a huge part” in extending his career and staying healthy at 31 years old.
“It’s a lifestyle on how to take care of your body, what you put in your body, flushing your body with his work,” he told reporters. “Before and after practice, keeping your muscles pliable, keeping them hydrated — those things. All it is is knowledge. The more knowledge you get through the years, the more powerful you can get. That’s kind of the little saying: more knowledge, more power. It’s definitely helped me a lot and I look forward to continue doing it.”
After tearing his ACL in a preseason game, the wide receiver has been keeping up with Guerrero as a part of his recovery process. While he is aware of those who disagree with Guerrero’s practices, Edelman told WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni & Fauria that going to the TB12 center is part of his daily rehab.
“If it helps you, then it helps you,” he said. “Tom is a living proof of how that has helped his career. I am a huge advocate of it. I feel like it helps me with a lot of my stuff, and I like consulting with Alex and those guys over there because I’ve seen through a lot of the rehabs that they have done that it’s been unbelievable.”
In November, Edelman said that he hadn’t seen anything that would suggest “a collision is coming” between Belichick and Guerrero.
Gronkowski tried his luck at the TB12 method this summer, too.
The tight end started regularly visiting the TB12 center in the spring. His primary goal was to supplement his current habits in order to stay injury-free — something that has plagued him throughout his eight-year career.
“I just felt like I had to add on to what I was doing,” he said in July. “Find a way that my body will respond so I can perform every day. Be in prevention mode for injuries happening.”
As for how effective the new exercises have been? The 28-year-old is having a stellar season, eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards for the fourth time in his career.
“My body is working more efficiently,” he told the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian. “Everyone thinks I’m skinnier. I feel looser. I feel my mobility has increased a lot. I feel way more pliable.”