The most highly anticipated regular-season game in NFL history is just days away, and Bill Belichick is going to be peppered with questions about Tom Brady all week long. He answered some of them on Monday morning, and some of what the New England Patriots coach said might surprise you.
Belichick said numerous times when he coached Brady that he wouldn’t want any other quarterback playing for him. During his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” he was asked when that changed. He responded that “it never changed” and said it was Brady’s choice to leave.
“There were a lot of things there — he looked at his options and made his decision,” Belichick said. “We weren’t as good of an option as Tampa. You’d have to ask him about all that, but it wasn’t a question of not wanting him that’s for sure.”
Belichick added that he has the utmost respect for Brady, but he repeatedly stated that he’s focused on preparing his team to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“My focus is on the game here, and look, I have so much respect and appreciation for Tom and everything he did here and for me and for our team,” the coach said. “We’re just getting ready for Tampa this week and we’re going to keep our focus on that.”
Brady would probably disagree that Belichick wanted to keep him. Brady’s father, Tom Sr., told Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston last week that Belichick wanted his son “out the door.”
On the other hand, Brady’s longtime trainer and best friend Alex Guerrero criticized Belichick for the way he treated Brady. That would imply that Brady grew tired of the culture in New England and wanted out.
So which one is it? The answer is both. Brady wanted to stay in New England, but he wanted Belichick to show more appreciation for him — both in the locker room and by acquiring better players to continue chasing championships during the twilight years of the quarterback’s career. When Belichick refused to change, Brady decided to leave. That was technically Brady’s choice, but Brady likely would have preferred to stay if things changed a bit.
Both Belichick and Brady will likely do everything they can to downplay the importance of Sundays game. That’s simply how they operate. But if Brady tries to claim it is “just another game,” we already have proof he is lying. He and his former coach both know it is anything but.