The relationship between Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick does not appear to be all that strong these days, and it seems like that has everything to do with the star tight end choosing to follow Tom Brady’s training methods over the team’s.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported over the weekend that Belichick chastised Gronkowski in front of his teammates at one point for working with Alex Guerrero and subscribing to the so-called TB12 method. Patriots reporter Tom E. Curran shed some more light on the exchange, and he was told that Belichick was attributing Gronk’s slow start in training camp to the fact that he was training at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center.
Source told me that, During camp, when Gronk was performing poorly, he was called out in front of team for being ineffective. Change in regimen was derisively referred to as the reason. This was big part of Gronk's irritation that lasted all year. https://t.co/xl9YzZqmf2
— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) April 9, 2018
As Curran notes, Gronkowski missed just one game in 2017 due to injury and had an All-Pro season. Given how much time he had missed in past seasons, it’s difficult to argue that he made the wrong choice by working with Guerrero.
Gronkowski still has not said whether he plans to play in 2018, and Curran previously reported that he contemplated retiring during training camp when he was at odds with the team over his rehabilitation. A lot of the Gronk drama ties into the issues between Belichick and Brady, and we have heard very little to this point to make us think that tension has been alleviated.
Rob Gronkowski began training with Tom Brady’s personal trainer last offseason, and the star tight end has been crediting the switch for his seemingly improved physical health. Bill Belichick does not seem to be on board with Gronk’s new training regimen, and that could be part of the reason for the reported tension between the two.
Gronkowski missed just one game due to injury in 2017, and he has openly said that working with Alex Guerrero and following the so-called TB12 method had led to him feeling better physically than he ever has. According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, Belichick at one point “chastised” Gronkowski in front of his teammates for becoming a Guerrero client.
Except Guerrero and his treatment of Patriots players beyond Brady is a polarizing subject in and around Patriot Place. Everything seems to be up for debate.
Plus, Gronkowski’s quest for pliability may have even stirred up some of the reported friction between Bill Belichick and his star tight end.
At one point early last season, the Hoodie chastised Gronk in front of the players for being a TB12 client, according to a source. So maybe that was Belichick’s not-so-subtle way of trying to keep everyone from jumping ship on the team’s training staff.
A previous report indicated that Belichick is making some of his star players miserable with the way he is running things in New England, and the TB12 drama clearly has a lot to do with that. Gronkowski obviously isn’t planning to stop training with Guerrero, and several others Patriots players have supposedly been doing the same. If Belichick, Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft can’t come up with some arrangement that works for everyone, the drama could linger into the 2018 season.
Malcolm Butler has handled his benching in Super Bowl LII about as well as anyone could as for, but the star cornerback experienced plenty of raw emotion while watching his teammates lose to the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, there were times during the game when he wanted to confront the coaching staff.
In an interview with Amazon’s Sports Illustrated TV channel, Butler opened up about having to restrain himself during his final game with the Patriots.
"This how we gonna end this?"
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 30, 2018
“There was times when I was on the sideline and I just wanted to go up to (Bill) Belichick or (defensive coordinator) Matt Patricia and just say, ‘This is how we gonna end this?'” Butler recalled. “I grew up in the Patriots system and I’m a man of God. I respect my authority and I just couldn’t ask them to do something they didn’t want to do.
“I just was doing my job. I was close to going up there and saying what I wanted to say to Matt or Belichick, but I just stayed in my lane and did my job. I really wanted to go ask him, but I didn’t.”
Even if the decision made absolutely no sense to outside viewers or many of his own teammates, Butler showed a great deal of self-control by putting the team before himself. He has alluded to the fact that he missed some practice time with an illness before the Super Bowl, so it’s possible Belichick felt he wasn’t prepared enough for the game. After New England’s defense was torched throughout the entire first half, Belichick should have made an adjustment and put Butler in.
That’s all in the past now, and Butler still landed a five-year contract with the Tennessee Titans that will pay him around $12 million annually. He also knows how his former teammates feel about him from some of the things they wrote on social media. While his time with the Patriots came to an unfortunate end, life could be worse for Butler.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft revealed earlier this week that he sat down for a meeting with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and he implied that it had something to do with the faces of the franchise clearing the air. While the sit-down may have helped, it does not sound like it was a cure-all.
Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal reports that “things still aren’t completely settled” between Belichick, Brady and Kraft even after their meeting. Bedard noted that the hope is that the meeting was a step in the direction.
Given all that we know about the tension that exists between Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero and the Patriots’ training staff, it’s possible that the issues will never be completely resolved. Brady’s TB12 Sports Therapy Center, which was co-founded by Guerrero, is located just outside Gillette Stadium. Players have reportedly been going there for treatment in increasing numbers, and there have been reports that they are being told to ignore instructions from the team’s training staff in favor of other workout and rehabilitation techniques.
In addition to the Guerrero drama, there have been strong indications that Brady and other Patriots players are unhappy with Belichick for benching Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. For evidence of that, look no further than the way Brady and some other veterans publicly supported Butler after the bitter loss.
No organization in sports has been better than the Patriots at limiting distractions and focusing on winning, and hardly anyone would be surprised if they did just that again in 2018. Even if Brady and Belichick don’t like each other as much as they once did, their goals are still very much aligned.
There is bound to be some lingering tension in New England after a Patriots’ season that featured some reported power struggles and ended with a bitter loss in the Super Bowl, and Robert Kraft hinted that some of that was addressed in a recent meeting he had with his Hall of Fame coach and quarterback.
While speaking with reporters from the NFL owners meetings on Monday, Kraft confirmed that he has met with Belichick and Brady since the end of the season. The Patriots owner did, however, downplay the significance.
Kraft said he had a meeting with Brady and Belichick, but downplayed it. “We have meetings all the time. … The residual of this loss was hard on everyone. But I see that as a high class problem.”
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 26, 2018
Patriots owner Robert Kraft on meeting with Brady and Belichick: “Yes, we’ve had the meeting. And just to be clear, we have meetings all the time. We’re not a big bureaucratic organization.”
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 26, 2018
It had previously been reported that Brady, Kraft and Belichick would have a “clear the air” meeting after what was apparently a tumultuous season, so Kraft is probably understating the importance a bit.
Kraft was also asked about Belichick’s controversial decision to bench Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl, and he stood by the coach without saying much about the situation.
Robert Kraft said if Bill Belichick made an error coaching “for the right reason” he has no issue with it, speaking in relation to Butler
— Karen Guregian (@kguregian) March 26, 2018
While Kraft said very little about Butler’s benching, reporters got a lot more out of him than they got out of Belichick recently.
The Patriots have plenty of question marks heading into the 2018 season, but no organization in sports has been better at limiting outside distractions and focusing on winning. That mentality has always started with Kraft.
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Good luck getting any information from Bill Belichick about the Malcom Butler benching in the Super Bowl.
Belichick is at the NFL Owners meetings, which led ESPN’s Mike Reiss to ask him Sunday about the Butler benching. In typical Belichick fashion, the New England Patriots head coach declined to get into the matter.
Asked Bill Belichick about Malcolm Butler and Super Bowl decision not to play him on defense, based on Butler’s remarks in Tennessee of maybe not being “locked in and focused 100 percent.” Belichick said he respects Butler. “Not going to get into last year,” he says.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 25, 2018
That is Belichick’s new version of “we’re on to Cincinnati.”
There has never been an explanation for Butler’s benching given by New England’s head coach, leaving many to wonder about the reason. Two things that have become clear is that the benching had nothing to do with discipline and it caught Butler by surprise.
The cornerback has since signed with the Titans.
The NFL season coming to an end may not mean the end of the supposed power struggle within the New England Patriots organization.
NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Giardi tweeted on Thursday that Bill Belichick has been making some of the top Pats players like Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady “miserable.” He also says a lot of the issues revolve around the Alex Guerrero problems.
Someone who "knows" is watching our show tonight. Source says Bill is making "planet players" miserable and yes, a lot of this ties back to the Alex Guerrero stuff. The players – like Brady and Gronk – "don't feel appreciated for the sacrifice they make."
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 15, 2018
Guerrero is Brady’s trainer, who has been a storyline for the Patriots over the past several months. Reports have said that there is discord between Belichick/the Patriots and some of the team’s players over Guerrero. Players like Brady and Rob Gronkowski prefer to train, work out, and seek treatment from Guerrero, while the team would rather have players do these things with the team.
Last month, a different reporter even said the Patriots tried to impede him from writing a story about Gronk training with Guerrero.
Giardi ended up predicting that Gronk will end up receiving more compensation from the Pats. It could be that all the buzz about retirement was intended to get him a raise.