Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s relationship had reportedly ‘run its course’
Brady was chasing to rediscover an essential version of himself.
In early 2018, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham published a bombshell story detailing the disconnect between quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft within the Patriots organization.
Wickersham titled that story, “For Kraft, Brady, and Belichick, is this the beginning of the end?”
Two years later, the end Wickersham predicted is here. Brady officially signed a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, putting an end to a 20-year run that produced six Super Bowl titles.
On Sunday, Wickersham published a new piece about Brady’s split with the Patriots, noting that Brady and Belichick’s relationship had “run its course.” Here are five important takeaways from the story:
The disconnect between Brady and Belichick began in 2008 and deepened from there.
Wickersham wrote that the first strain in the Brady-Belichick relationship began in 2008 when Brady underwent knee surgery. He started spending more time in Los Angeles than Foxborough, which culminated in a disconnect during contract negotiations in 2010. Deflategate happened in 2013, and people close to Brady, according to Wickersham, felt that Kraft and Belichick did not stand by his side during the controversy.
The boiling point, Wickersham reports, came in 2017, when Brady began promoting his own business, TB12 Sports, over the Patriot Way — something that deeply affected his relationship with Belichick.
“The team was defending its fifth Super Bowl, and for the first time, Brady used his platform to advocate a philosophy other than the Patriot Way,” Wickersham wrote. “He used it to advocate his own business, TB12 Sports, and its accompanying book, ‘The TB12 Method,’ which he wrote with the help of his trainer and friend, Alex Guerrero. The issues in the Patriots building caused by The Method — how it pitted players against the team training staff, how Belichick felt forced to curtail Guerrero’s access are widely reported and well-known.”
Brady was “deeply dissatisfied” after the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
Wickersham says Brady became “deeply dissatisfied” after he threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards and the Patriots still lost to the Eagles, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII.
Belichick addressed the team back in Foxborough after the defeat, and Brady reportedly stared down while Belichick spoke. According to Wickersham, Brady told people within the organization that he wasn’t coming back, and then proceeded to distance himself from the team during offseason workouts.
“He left passive-aggressive comments on social media,” Wickersham wrote. “He pleaded the fifth. He looked lost at the end of his Facebook docuseries, ‘Tom vs. Time,’ saying of his passion, ‘What are we doing this for? … You gotta have answers to those questions.’ ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, in his book “Belichick,” reported that Brady wanted a “divorce” from his coach.”
Brady wanted to “feel valued” and “to love work”.
The contract extensions continued to stall in 2018, and after Brady and the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams for their sixth Super Bowl title, another difficult negotiation ensued.
Brady was reportedly prepared to walk out of training camp prior to this season, but he ended up signing a one-year deal disguised as an extension. Brady continued to not feel any appreciation from the Patriots throughout this season. Wickersham wrote that the Antonio Brown signing invigorated Brady, but it went away when Brown was released after one game.
A confidant told Wickersham this season that Brady was like, “Why am I doing this?”
“The Patriots’ defense was winning games, but the offense was stagnant,” Wickersham wrote. “Brady told friends that he felt Belichick had taken the offense for granted because of how good it had been for so long. Brady told NBC’s Al Michaels that he was the ‘most miserable 8-0 quarterback in the NFL.'”
The San Francisco 49ers were Brady’s top choice this offseason, and the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans were also in play.
Brady reportedly made it clear through various channels that he wanted to play for his hometown team, the 49ers. However, San Francisco decided to fully commit to Jimmy Garoppolo instead of signing the 43-year old Brady.
Wickersham also wrote that Brady to the Saints gained steamed in NFL circles when Drew Brees was contemplating retirement this offseason. But Brees wound up returning to New Orleans on a two-year deal. The Titans, meanwhile, preferred Ryan Tannehill over Brady, according to Wickersham.
Brady has been chasing to rediscover an essential version of himself.
As Brady continued to feel undervalued by the Patriots, evidenced by the lack of a new contract extension, Wickersham gathered through people close to Brady that he was chasing a feeling “not just to prove the Patriots wrong, but to find — no, rediscover — an essential version of himself.”
According to Wickersham, the takeaway after this season’s Super Bowl was that Brady’s dream of retiring a Patriot was unlikely.
“Nobody was budging. Brady wanted a commitment; the Patriots would commit only year to year,” Wickersham wrote. “The tenet that had made the Patriots so hated and successful over the years — the emotionless pursuit of victory — seemed to finally touch the untouchable quarterback.”
Wickersham wrote that the Brady-Belichick relationship had “run its course” and that Brady “needed something new.”
On Monday night, Brady went to Kraft’s house to tell him his tenure with the Patriots was over. Wickersham insinuated that Brady leaving the Patriots was the best for his happiness.
“In the flurry of the past few years, especially the past few months, it was easy to forget,” Wickersham wrote. “But maybe, in wondering what motivates the most accomplished quarterback ever, we lost track of a simple and human fact: Sometimes we chase what makes us happiest.”
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