In what might be the NFL equivalent of the Fire and Fury book, Seth Wikerscham posted a story at ESPN that lays out in great detail what might be the beginning of the end of the New England Patriot dynasty. What once seemed to be an unstoppable trio of owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, now seems to be on the verge of shattering a part one of the winningest teams in NFL history… all of this while they drive towards their sixth Super Bowl championship.
It would be a disservice to the work of Wickerscham to try and get all of the subtle nuances that he was able to capture in his article. But the brief synopsis is that Brady, who has been the perfect soldier to Belichick's brilliant general, is finally trying to be more than just the Patriots' quarterback and establish a training method called TB12 with his long time trainer and friend Alex Guerrero. The trainer was originally allowed full access to the Patriots facilities by Belichick and even entry into some meetings. Belichick saw him as someone that helped Brady. But the two men had very different training believes and eventually other players felt pressured to train one way or the other to curry favor with the coach or the quarterback. This went along with Brady, now in his 40's, insisting he could play for another five years. Something Belichick seemed to no be as confident about. It appears the Brady pushed Kraft to commit to him long term which lead to Belichick being forced to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, something Belichick really didn't want to do.
The report insinuates that Belichick may be ready to move on, possibly to the New York Giants, and that another Super Bowl victory won't be able to cover up the cracks.
Brady, Belichick and Kraft released a joint statement addressing the story:
For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship. In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate. The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years. It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united.
Guerrero, Brady's trainer, business partner and key part of the story also issued a satement:
Throughout my career I have been blessed to work with many remarkable athletes in a variety of sports. With every one of these clients, my only goal has been to help them bring forth positive changes in their body & mind. I have always tried to be respectful of the staff each player answers to, and I have never tried to create divisiveness or conflict. My ultimate goal has always been to do my very best to help the player get back on the field and help their team. I have never had any motive other than that. My approach is and always has been to give people information based on my beliefs — then let them follow their own path toward what they believe works best for them. Ultimately every decision is up to each individual athlete.
New England is known for keeping things quiet and focusing on the job. It's something they'll need to do again as they will host an AFC divisional-round playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 13,