New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady felt trapped this past offseason and was not sure he wanted to play anymore for the only NFL coach he has ever had, Bill Belichick, according to a new book on Belichick’s life.
“If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source with knowledge of the Brady-Belichick relationship told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, author of “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” after the 2017 season.
“But in the end, even if he wanted to, Brady could not walk away from the game, and he could not ask for a trade,” O’Connor wrote. “The moment Belichick moved [Jimmy] Garoppolo to San Francisco, and banked on Brady’s oft-stated desire to play at least into his mid-forties, was the moment Brady was virtually locked into suiting up next season and beyond. Had he retired or requested a trade, he would have risked turning an adoring New England public into an angry mob.”
Winning cures all. Just imagine how much they would have hated each other if they hadn’t won ninth consecutive division titles.
Other notable material in the book includes:
- In the early days of the case, Belichick was among the Patriots officials who had “serious doubts” about Brady’s claim he had no involvement in the potential deflation of footballs used in the January 2015 AFC Championship Game victory over the Colts.
- One person close to Brady said his entire family was “miffed” at Belichick for telling reporters to ask the quarterback about his preferences on game balls and “very miffed” at Kraft for reluctantly announcing in 2015 that he wouldn’t fight Brady’s four-game ban. Of the notion that Belichick had initially dumped Deflategate in his quarterback’s lap, one close friend of Brady’s said, “I thought Bill handled it terribly, especially when it involved a guy who’d done everything to help your career as a coach, and you hung him out to dry.”
- Brady told friends that his weak answer to the news conference question about whether he was a cheater — “I don’t believe so” — didn’t betray a consciousness of Deflategate guilt, but rather thoughts of the earlier Spygate conviction and his belief that at least some of the suspicions over the years about alleged Patriots black-ops tactics were likely true.
- During the Patriots-Jets season opener in 2007, after a Patriots staffer had his camera confiscated for illegally filming Jets coaches from the sideline, three law enforcement officers refereed a heated debate in a Giants Stadium office over control of the camera and tape. FBI agent Bob Bukowski and longtime New Jersey state troopers and Meadowlands security officials Jim Crann and Pat Aramini, who had worked undercover to infiltrate the Genovese crime family, listened as Patriots security chief Mark Briggs and two Jets officials made what Crann called “cross allegations” of wrongdoing. Crann said Briggs kept accusing the Meadowlands officers of stealing New England’s camera. Said Bukowski of the Patriots and the Spygate tape: “They knew what was on it, and they wanted it back. They were trying any reason, but there was no way.”
Urban Meyer/Aaron Hernandez
- While coaching at Florida, Urban Meyer warned at least one NFL team that it should not draft his talented but troubled tight end, Aaron Hernandez. Meyer told that team, “Look, this guy’s a hell of a football player, but he f—ing lies to beat the system and teaches all our other guys to beat the system. With the marijuana stuff, we’ve never caught this guy, but we know he’s doing it. … Don’t f—ing touch that guy.” An official with that NFL team said he was taken aback when Meyer’s friend, Belichick, drafted Hernandez in the fourth round. “I never understood that,” the official said.
- Parcells and Belichick had repaired much of the damage to their relationship caused by Belichick’s stormy departure from the Jets after 1999, but Parcells is quoted in the book questioning why his former defensive coordinator’s game plan in the Giants‘ Super Bowl XXV upset of the Bills ended up in Canton. “I don’t know whose idea that was to put it in the Hall of Fame,” Parcells said. “If anything should be in the Hall of Fame, it should be [offensive coordinator] Ron Erhardt’s game plan. We had the ball for 40 minutes and some seconds. That takes work, consistent play. We were only on defense for 19 minutes. To me, we had a good game plan against them. It was well thought out, a couple of things we did, the two-man lines in that game. But I’m not diminishing anything. I’m just telling you. I don’t know how that happened. I’m not knocking anyone here.”
- Though the longtime friends formed a devastating tandem in 1994, when their Browns defense allowed a league-low 204 points, Belichick and Saban had their moments in Cleveland. Saban had little use for Belichick’s restrictions on his assistants’ access to reporters or for Belichick’s conservative philosophy on defense. “Nick was so pissed with Bill,” recalled Pro Bowl defensive end Rob Burnett. “He wanted to do so many things and he was hamstrung by Bill. I used to meet with Nick all the time, and Bill would not bend as far as changing defenses. He stayed as vanilla as ice cream. … To Nick I was like, ‘Oh, man, remember in training camp when they couldn’t block us on this blitz?’ He goes, ‘I know, I know. But sometimes I put it in the game plan and Bill won’t run it on Sundays.’ … At the end, it wasn’t the best relationship.”
- Steve Belichick was ahead of his time on race relations. While serving in the Navy during World War II, Belichick’s father was the only white man who didn’t walk out of the officers’ club on Okinawa when one of the Navy’s first black officers, Samuel Barnes, walked in. Belichick instead befriended Barnes, who often faced racism during his service. Barnes’ daughter Olga likened their friendship to the cross-racial bond between former Bearsrunning backs Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo depicted in the 1971 film “Brian’s Song.”