Tom Brady addressed the reported growing tension within the Patriots organization, during halftime of Saturday afternoon’s wild-card playoff contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans.
The 40-year-old quarterback told Westwood One’s Jim Gray that, to him, the team’s current working environment is the same as it has been throughout his tenure in New England — despite recent media reports suggesting otherwise.
“I see it as I’ve seen it for the last 18 years,” he said. “That we’re all there to do a job and that’s to go out and do our best to help the team win. That’s been very consistent here. That’s been a big reason why our team has been so successful, and I don’t see that any different going into this week.”
Brady’s comments are along similar lines of what he expressed in his joint statement with coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft, following ESPN’s Seth Wickersham’s latest report on the changing dynamics among the trio.
According to Wickersham, the group has had multiple disagreements “over Brady’s trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team’s long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick’s bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing.”
But the team has continued to rebuff any notion of an alleged rift.
In an interview published by Sports Illustrated Saturday morning, Kraft called Wickersham’s reporting on the Jimmy Garoppolo trade “total fabrication and fiction.” The 76-year-old businessman told Peter King that he did not order Belichick to trade New England’s former backup quarterback, as Wickersham had detailed in his story.
Brady — who Wickersham wrote seemed “liberated” by the Garoppolo trade — said it’s “very interesting” to read about himself in the news and learn how others perceive him. The quarterback noted there’s sometimes a dichotomy between his “own personal feelings” and what the media may speculate them to be.
“I have my own thoughts and feelings about those experiences,” he told Gray. “As I’ve said before, I’m a very positive person, so when I read things that are disparaging about somebody or someone or some thing, those are the things that probably bother me because I think those are completely untrue. They’re very different from the core of the person that I am because I don’t let a lot of negatively thoughts really enter my mind.”
Brady said he doesn’t think the reports, regardless of whether they are true or false, have generated any tension among the Patriots — adding that the group will only become “fractured” if they allow the rumors to manifest themselves.
“In so many ways, the adversity that our team has faced over the years only makes us stronger,” he said. “I think for so long we’ve proven that we’re able to ignore the noise. We do our job. We speak for ourselves and we focus on what we need to do to let the team win.”
That’s all Brady is focused on: winning. While he understands unparalleled levels of success come with heightened attention, he also knows the importance of not allowing outside chatter distract the players from their goal.
“We have a great opportunity as a team,” he said. “To let anything get in the way of that and all the hard work that people have really put into it and what we’ve achieved, to take away from that, it would be very unfortunate to let this opportunity get away from us.”
In regard to his relationships with Belichick and Kraft, Brady shared everything — from his perspective — is great with both men. He called Kraft “a second father” to him, praised Belichick for his influence on his career, and expressed gratitude for his time in New England.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Belichick,” he said. “We’ve worked together for 18 years. There’s no coach I’d rather play for, and I’ve loved my experience here. I certainly couldn’t be the player I am today without playing for such a great coach. I see these as all positive things — that obviously doesn’t sell many newspapers.”
“I can only speak for myself, and really, my relationships with everybody that I deal with I feel are so positive,” he continued. “To think anything differently of that is complete nonsense. So I love the fact where we’re at as a team.”
As for whether he will finish his career as Patriot?
Brady acknowledged he is well-aware that things certainly have the capability to change. After all, as he previously pointed out to Gray, Michael Jordan played for the Washington Wizards and Joe Montana played for the Kansas City Chiefs. The 40-year-old knows happy endings in sports are rare and plans to keep things in perspective as he moves forward.
“I know careers change,” he said. “They change places. Great players change. Coaches change. Ownership changes. That’s just the way it is. I think there’s a humility that you understand you’re not bigger than any of this. I believe I’m certainly not. I love this team, I love this organization, and hopefully we can go out and make everybody proud by finishing this season the right way.”