ESPN reporter already backtracking from report about Bill Belichick leaving Patriots?
Seth Wickersham of ESPN the Magazine released a bombshell story about the New England Patriots this week, and in it he cited sources who believe this could be Bill Belichick’s last year with the team. Was that an exaggeration?
Even if there is an ongoing power struggle within the Patriots organization, it’s hard to imagine Belichick not being back in 2018. Still, Wickersham wrote that Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft have had “serious disagreements,” and some feel Belichick is on the verge of walking away.
They differ on Brady’s trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team’s long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick’s bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing. Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group.
Kraft owns the team, so he isn’t going anywhere. And the Patriots just traded potential future franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, so Brady’s job is safe. That only leaves Belichick, and here’s how Wickersham described the mood surrounding the Patriots after their Week 17 win over the New York Jets.
It didn’t look like Belichick’s last regular-season game as the Patriots’ head coach, but several coaches and staffers later remarked to one another that it felt as if it could be.
In other words, Wickersham has been given the impression that the end is near. But when you’re talking about a 40-year-old quarterback and a 65-year-old coach, that is almost a given. Not only that, but Belichick possibly walking away from his job in a month would be a lot different from leaving after the 2018 season. We say this because in a brief video summary of his investigative reporting, Wickersham for some reason said there’s a feeling surrounding the Patriots that “this year or next” could be the final run for Belichick and Brady together.
“The Patriots are still the Super Bowl favorite, but they are in unchartered territory. There’s a sense in Foxboro that this year or next could be the last run for Brady and Belichick. Of all the ironies about the Patriot Way, the biggest one is that a philosophy based on team only needed two men to thrive.”
Which one is it, Seth? Heck, maybe Brady and Belichick only have two more years together after this season. Boy, that would be shocking, wouldn’t it?
A lot of the claims made in the ESPN piece are newsworthy (see more of them here), but it isn’t exactly stunning that Brady and Belichick are nearing the end of their partnership. While Brady insists he wants to play until he’s at least 45, that’s far from a guarantee. If the Belichick-Brady era is coming to an end after this postseason run, that would be a lot more shocking than it ending in another year or two.