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.
Tom Brady spoke with the media for the first time at mandatory minicamp on Thursday, and as expected the Patriots quarterback downplayed any talk of a rift between him and his coach or the organization.
When asked where his relationship with Bill Belichick currently stands, Brady described it as “great.” He also said he chose not to attend voluntary workouts for “personal” reasons.
Video: Brady talks about his relationship with Belichick and why “personal” things kept him away from OTAs pic.twitter.com/TsttQTy7oV
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) June 7, 2018
Brady, who is known for saying nothing at all while speaking quite a bit during his media sessions, gave his most brief response when asked if he contemplated retiring this offseason.
Did you ever think about retirement this offseason?
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) June 7, 2018
For what it’s worth, Brady would not commit to attending OTAs going forward, which will be voluntary leading up to training camp once minicamp has concluded. It’s possible that he still intends to work out on his own with his personal trainer Alex Guerrero during that time.
Belichick was asked about his and Brady’s relationship earlier in the week, and his response was quite similar. No matter what the two future Hall of Famers say, there’s something different about this offseason in New England than ones in the past. That could have to do with lingering tension over the bizarre decision Belichick made it in the Super Bowl, or it could be a lot more complicated than that. Either way, Brady and Belichick are never going to give the media any indication that there is trouble in paradise.
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.
Most people feel it is only a matter of time before Brad Stevens wins a championship with the Boston Celtics, and one of the greatest coaches of all time has clearly joined that chorus.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who was spotted sitting courtside at several Celtics games this season, did not hold back while praising Stevens after Boston’s loss in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday.
“Coach Stevens is incredible,” Belichick told Greg Bedard of BostonSportsJournal.com. “He always points out that the players are the ones who, regardless of the situation, have made this a special team, defying all expectations and adversity game after game after game. But he clearly is a driving force behind it. Coach Stevens is a phenomenal person, leader, teacher and strategist, and the job he does is a model for all coaches.”
Football fans would tell you those comments are a bit ironic, as Belichick always deflects the praise onto his players and never takes credit for his team’s accomplishments. It’s easy to be reminded of Belichick when watching the way Stevens handles himself with the media (minus the constant snark), and that probably isn’t a coincidence.
We already know how Stevens is going to feel about being praised by Belichick, but the young coach deserves it. Boston’s season ended on a disappointing note, but they really had no business making that deep of a playoff run without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. There are few coaches in sports who are more respected than Stevens right now.
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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.
A sexual assault allegation that was made against Matt Patricia in 1996 came to light this week, but both his current and former employers are standing by the first-year head coach.
Bill Belichick released a statement addressing the Patricia situation on Thursday, and the coach noted that the New England Patriots — like the Detroit Lions — were unaware that Patricia was indicted on a sexual assault charge more than 20 years ago. Belichick also praised Patricia for being an “outstanding person, coach and family man.”
Bill Belichick’s statement on Matt Patricia. Defends Patricia as a man of integrity, said Patriots didn’t know of the allegations either pic.twitter.com/5Y5sbhMkG9
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) May 10, 2018
As an article published by the Detroit News highlighted, Patricia and one of his Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute teammates and fraternity brothers, Greg Dietrich, were accused in 1996 of bursting into a room and taking turns sexually assaulting a woman they had met during a spring break trip to South Padre Island in Texas. The woman identified Patricia and Dietrich as the assailants. The two were arrested and later released on bond. They were charged with sexual assault and indicted by a grand jury, but they never stood trial. Records show the woman did not want to proceed with the case and stand trial.
Patricia met with the media on Thursday to address the allegation, and he passionately defended his innocence.