And you thought only the Pittsburgh Steelers had drama? A new report, I’m hesitant to call it a bombshell but a big one, from ESPN talks us behind the veil of the New England Patriots. A pristine, perfect, problem-free franchise? Not quite.
We’ll link the article a hundred times because it’s certainly worth reading, an extensive article from Seth Wickersham, with dozens of nuggets of info that show all is not well in Foxborough. The crux of the issue seems to revolve around a previous report of Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero, heading up TB12 to unconventionally train players and offer lifestyle advice.
From Wickersham’s article, which outlines concerns with how all-in Brady went with Guerrero, even writing in his book this method of training can prevent injury.
“The way TB12 began to creep into Brady’s life worried people close to the QB, many of whom were suspicious of Guerrero. “Tom changed,” says a friend of Brady’s. ‘That’s where a lot of these problems started.'”
The report says younger Patriots players felt pressured to work with Guerrero and TB12 instead of Patriots’ doctors, which Bill Belichick predictably disagreed with. Eventually, Guerrero was shut out of the Patriots’ facility, though Brady still worked with him off site.
Again, much of that has been reported already.
Beyond that, Wickersham paints a picture of a battle between Brady and Belichick over Brady’s future. Brady has been adamant he will play well into his 40s, again, because of how much faith he has in Guerrero’s program, while the more pragmatic Belichick wants to find his eventual replacement. That was supposed to be Jimmy Garoppolo. But tensions increased over Brady feeling like he was going to be pushed out. Brady viewed Garoppolo as a threat, the report going so far as to say when Garoppolo went to TB12 for treatment, he was locked out of the building and no one would return his calls.
Owner Robert Kraft made it clear to Belichick – trade Garappolo.
“Two weeks before the Nov. 1 trading deadline, Belichick met with Kraft to discuss the quarterback situation…the meeting ended with a clear mandate to Belichick: trade Garoppolo because he would not be in the team’s long-term plans, and then, once again, find the best quarterback in the draft and develop him. Belichick was furious and demoralized, according to friends.”
Imagine that. One of the greatest coaches in history, and best of his era, not allowed to make football decisions. And so Garoppolo went, traded to the San Francisco 49ers for only a second round pick, to the surprise and confusion for players and staffers kept out of the loop.
But with Brady showing signs of decline, both in injury and on-field play, ESPN’s report says Belichick lit into him after Brady struggled against the Houston Texans, the rift still exists.
“The owner was in Brady’s corner. ‘He won,’ a Patriots staffer says.”
Wickersham’s article ends by floating the possibility of Belichick retiring at the end of the year. It wouldn’t shock me. Wickersham paints a picture of a different Belichick, a kinder and more helpful coach who is taking an interest in helping his assistant coaches to get jobs (both his offensive and defensive coordinators are candidates right now) and making sure his sons are taken care of in the football world. Belichick has been as successful as anyone could imagine and could take the “life’s work” approach Chuck Noll had. He’s about to turn 66, after all.
“Belichick, having always subscribed to the philosophy that it’s time to go once an owner gets involved in football decisions, left the impression with some friends that the current dynamic was unsustainable.”
I’m sure the Patriots will deny most of this report, or flat out no-comment (a brief release by the team for the article trashed the report). And on the surface, everything still looks ok. They are the Patriots after all, still winning in the midst of this reported chaos. It’s not the present but the future that looks very unstable for the organization.
Again, check out the whole article. It’s worth your time, if for anything, NFL gossip that would make Washington D.C. swoon. 2018 should be an interesting offseason for New England.