Even Bill Belichick has caught Red Sox fever.
Belichick took in Sunday night’s Red Sox-Yankees rivalry game at Fenway Park. He was a guest in owner John Henry’s box and was shown by ESPN chatting it up with Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski:
Lots of smiles from Bill Belichick this weekend. Here he is at Fenway tonight w President of baseball Ops Dave Dombrowski. Tough fit on the hat pic.twitter.com/V44IH0rdwA
— Yianni Kourakis (@YianniKourakis) August 6, 2018
Belichick was joined at the game by his friend, former World Series-winning manager Tony La Russa.
Belichick’s New England Patriots recently opened up training camp and are scheduled to play their first preseason game on Thursday. They rank highly on our list of teams most likely to dethrone the Eagles as Super Bowl champs.
- Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick does not seem like the type of guy who would go out of his way to give birthday presents, especially on a work day. But with four-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady turning 41 on Friday, it appears Belichick was feeling quite generous.
Several Patriots reporters noticed on Friday that Brady was watching veteran backup Brian Hoyer and rookie Danny Etling take part in most drills. The birthday boy simply watched from the sideline throughout the majority of practice, and it seems like that was Belichick’s way of giving him a gift.
Tom Brady gets a lightened workload for his 41st birthday, as he didn’t work in 11-on-11 drills, giving way to Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling. Lots of situations in practice, with music blaring. Cordarrelle Patterson caps it off with 1-handed TD catch from Hoyer.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 3, 2018
For his 41st birthday, Tom Brady received the day off from Bill Belichick. He was basically a spectator today.
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) August 3, 2018
In past years, that probably would not be significant. However, it could give a small glimpse into the current state of the Belichick-Brady relationship. There have been numerous reports about tension between the two, and there is likely some truth behind them. That hasn’t stopped Brady from saying some very nice things about his longtime coach, and Belichick giving Brady a day off for his 41st birthday certainly indicates there is no deep-seeded hatred between the two.
Bill Belichick did not want to talk about his controversial decision to bench Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl in the days after his New England Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, so you can just imagine how he feels about it now. That didn’t stop a reporter from going there on the eve of training camp.
On Wednesday morning, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe told Belichick he would not be doing his job if he didn’t ask about last season and the Butler situation. Belichick quickly shut the question down, but Shaughnessy wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Things got awkward in a hurry:
WATCH: Bill Belichick when asked about Malcolm Butler's Super Bowl benching, "Last year is last year."
— Ian Steele (@IanSteeleABC6) July 25, 2018
“Every day that I’ve coached here, I’ve done the best that I could for this football team and I’ll continue to do that,” Belichick said. “Right now my focus is on the 2018 season — not 2017, not 2014, not 2007, not 2004, not 2001 and not 2000. I’m not focused on any of those seasons. They’re done.”
It’s no secret that Belichick’s decision to bench Butler has created issues with the Patriots, and time will tell if that spills over into this season. One legendary coach insists none of that will matter once things get underway, but that doesn’t mean the questions about it are going to stop.
There have been signs of some very obvious tension between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick over the past year or so, but the star quarterback insists any issues the two future Hall of Famers have had are those typical of any long-term relationship.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that will air in its entirety on Sunday, Brady was asked if there are any problems between him and Belichick. He reiterated what he told reporters during minicamp earlier this month.
.@Oprah asks Tom Brady, “Is something going on with you & Belichick?”
TB: “Umm…No. I mean, I love him. I love that he’s an incredible coach, mentor for me. And he’s pushed me in a lot of ways. Like everything, we don’t agree on absolutely everything. But that’s relationships.”
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) June 17, 2018
Brady clearly is not happy that his personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, had some of his access to the team limited in recent years. There’s a definite power struggle going on in New England, and time will tell if it has any impact on the Patriots’ chances of returning to the Super Bowl this upcoming season.
If all was well between Brady, Belichick and the team, Brady’s future offseason plans would look a lot different.
As expected, Tom Brady took the field at mandatory minicamp for the New England Patriots on Tuesday. The only thing more predictable than that was the way Brady’s coach reacted to the quarterback returning to the practice field with the team.
At his first press conference of minicamp, Bill Belichick was asked several questions about Brady and Rob Gronkowski choosing to skip voluntary organized team activities. He downplayed the significance of it and insisted his relationship within Brady remains in a good place.
Bill Belichick speaking at #Patriots minicamp: "I've always had a good relationship with Tom." Says Brady has skipped OTAs before. All players present for mandatory minicamp.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 5, 2018
Brady has not skipped OTAs for the last several seasons and has spoken in recent years about how important they are, but Belichick chose not to echo those sentiments. As usual, he also did his best to put Brady and Gronk on the same level as everyone else.
Video: Belichick on having Brady and Gronk back: “It’s good to have everybody back.” pic.twitter.com/KQxX6Jxx9c
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) June 5, 2018
It’s no secret that Brady and Belichick have not been seeing eye-to-eye on everything over the past year or so, and some players may still be upset with the coach over the puzzling decision he made in the Super Bowl. But if history repeats itself, the Patriots will brush all of that aside and focus on winning. Belichick and Brady still want to add another Super Bowl win to their respective legacies, so that should be motivation enough for them to ignore all of the outside noise.
Several NFL players have criticized Bill Belichick for the strict nature with which he runs his team, and some of the most respected veterans in the New England Patriots’ locker room think all the talk is nonsense.
Defensive end Cassius Marsh, who now plays for the San Francisco 49ers, made headlines earlier this week when he said there is “nothing fun” about playing for the Patriots and criticized the way he was used during his time there. That jived with what Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson said about the culture in New England following the Super Bowl. After organized team activities on Thursday, Patriots captains Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower defended their coach.
“If we go 0-16, it probably won’t be fun,” McCourty said, per Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. “I think now, you look at a team who beats us in the Super Bowl, and you get guys who are talking about it, that’s front page news. Then Cassius leaves. He played here. He had a frustrating time here, so I don’t expect him to leave and say he had a great time. But if you ask any guy on this team, (they’ll say) the fun comes from hanging with each other … the relationships between the guys, a lot of our fun happens in the locker room before we even come out here and have fun winning football games.”
Hightower seemed to agree.
“I know it’s not for everybody. It’s definitely harder than most places, but that’s part of it,” the linebacker said. “A lot of guys know that when they come here. In the locker room, it’s not Bill’s job to make this fun, this atmosphere fun, it’s the guys around it. Every guy in that locker room I love like a brother. We have fun whether we’re out here struggling together with blood, sweat and tears, or we’re hanging out, outside of football. There’s a time and place for everything. But we know when walk through the building, it’s time to work.”
All of this talk of not having enough fun seems to have people forgetting that these are professional athletes who get paid millions of dollars to play. McCourty alluded to that.
“Obviously, we work for a living so in this business, you have to win,” he said. “When you lose, it’s not fun. People get fired. You lose your job. That’s not fun. So I wouldn’t believe anyone who told me they only won half their games, and were having the best time of their lives.”
Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who won three Super Bowls with the team and has always been a Belichick supporter, also chimed in.
Players that don’t like their Patriot experience are the ones that can’t take tough coaching, get eaten up by the pressure, blame others for failures and expect things are supposed to be given to them.
— Tedy Bruschi (@TedyBruschiESPN) May 31, 2018
For what it’s worth, two of the Patriots’ biggest stars have breathed life into the discussion — whether they intended to or not. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have not been attending voluntary workouts, and there have been rumblings that their absences have something to do with their dissatisfaction with Belichick. If what Hightower and McCourty said is any indication, the same cannot be said for every player in New England.
The story surrounding the New England Patriots this week is more about who isn’t at organized team activities than who is taking part in the voluntary workouts, but Bill Belichick is not going to entertain questions about those who are absent.
Even if two of the missing players are his biggest stars.
During his press conference on Tuesday morning, Belichick was asked about Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not attending OTAs. His response was extremely predictable.
Has Bill Belichick spoken to Tom Brady?
“Yeah, we’re not going to talk about the guys who aren’t here.” pic.twitter.com/LmaJWPfx1s
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) May 22, 2018
Asked about his meeting with Rob Gronkowski, Belichick reiterated he was “focused” on the players that are here
— Karen Guregian (@kguregian) May 22, 2018
Belichick has never shown a willingness to speak about players who are injured or miss practices for other reasons, and you knew he wasn’t going to change his approach just because so much has been written about Brady and Gronkowski.
For what it’s worth, Brady and Gronk could have similar reasons for staying away from the team at the moment. Gronkowski reportedly wants more money, and the same could be said for Brady. There has also been talk about both players butting heads with Belichick over training and conditioning, so they could be sending a message. Either way, it would be much more concerning if either or both did not show up to mandatory minicamp next month.