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Sunday, February 25, 2018

ESPN explores Patriots’ power struggle in bombshell piece

Bill Belichick

ESPN dropped an in-depth piece by Seth Wickersham that discusses a power struggle going on within the New England Patriots’ organization, which led the writer to wonder how much longer things will last with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft all being on the same page.

Among the numerous claims to come from Wickersham’s incredible reporting is that Kraft forced Belichick to trade Jimmy Garoppolo two weeks before the trade deadline, which was taken as Brady winning a power struggle within the organization. The piece even concludes by wondering whether this will be Belichick’s last season as the team’s head coach.

The theme of the piece is that there has been lingering tension within the organization this season. The tension stems from the Patriots’ tough decision between how to handle the future of the quarterback position. Belichick wanted to keep Garoppolo around to ensure a smooth transition that would allow the franchise to continue winning even when Brady was no longer around. Brady felt uncomfortable with Garoppolo and wanted the team to commit to him. Wickersham says that a meeting between Brady and Belichick in October over the team’s future at quarterback ended in a “little blowup.”

Many were left confused when Garoppolo was traded to the San Francisco 49ers before the deadline. The deal came together extremely quietly, and the price paid for Jimmy G. was much, much less than what previously was discussed for him. Belichick apparently put the deal together quietly by speaking with Kyle Shanahan directly. Wickersham’s report makes it seem like Belichick picked where he wanted to send Garoppolo because he thought Jimmy G. would excel under the 49ers coach.

The piece touches on some matters that have been reported about throughout the season, which is that there is friction between Belichick and Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero. Patriots players reportedly were often left conflicted over whether they should show loyalty to Brady by training with Guerrero, or to the Patriots by training and receiving treatment from the team. One nugget Wickersham includes is that after Garoppolo injured his shoulder last season, the Brady training facility supposedly initially froze him out from being treated there.

Adding to the tension between Brady and Belichick is that Brady reportedly is growing sick of the criticism he has faced from Belichick. Belichick has always made it clear that nobody is above criticism, not even the team’s star QB. Brady reportedly feels like the criticism has gone even farther this season, noting that he hasn’t been “Patriot of the Week” once this season.

Will all of this add up to someone leaving the organization, namely Belichick? That is a question presented by the piece. But one thing we know is that in a year when the Patriots lack the adversity they felt last year from the Deflategate suspension, perhaps this ESPN article will provide the fuel the team needs to make yet another Super Bowl run.

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