This weekend Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will square off against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
It will mark Brady’s first return to Foxboro since his messy divorce with the Patriots more than a year ago.
Because of the two decades of success and history at the core of Brady relationship with Belichick, this week has been subject to a lot of introspection about the pair’s dynamics.
During a recent interview with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, NFL insider Peter King broke down the two major factors that ultimately led to Brady leaving New England for Tampa Bay.
“I think, at the end, Tom Brady wanted two things: He wanted to experience a new brand of football,” King told Florio. “Remember, 2019 was his 29th season of football — high school, college and pro. All 29 years, he played for a defensive coach. So, I think he really wanted to go somewhere — whether it be Frank Reich, Kyle Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Bruce Arians — he wanted to go to a place with an offensive coach who he felt like would have more of an understanding of him.
“I think that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will embrace (at the Pro Football Hall of Fame) in Canton 12, 15 years from now, whatever it is. But I do think Brady wanted a breath of fresh air.”
King also acknowledged that Brady and Belichick had something of a ‘tough-love’ relationship.
“I think, during the 20 years, it was obviously a tough-love relationship between the two,” King continued. “You know, you remember the story of Tom Brady actually being called out by Bill Belichick in 2007, in their first team meeting that year.
“Randy Moss is there, he’s sitting in the audience and he hears Bill Belichick criticize Tom Brady for a throw he made in their last game, the playoff loss to close 2006, and he calls him ‘Johnny Foxboro’ — ‘Johnny Foxboro could’ve made that throw.’ And so I think Belichick viewed that that’s how he’s going to treat his players — and I mean all of his players, and forever.”
This of course aligns with something Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero, said recently.
“It was like Bill never really … I think his emotions or feelings never evolved with age,” Guerrero told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. “As Tom got into his late 30s or early 40s, I think Bill was still trying to treat him like that 20-year-old kid that he drafted. And all the players, I think, realized Tom was different. He’s older, so he should be treated differently. And all the players, none of them would have cared that he was treated differently.
“I think that was such a Bill thing. He never evolved. So you can’t treat someone who’s in his 40s like they’re 20. It doesn’t work.”
Considering that even Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has mocked New England’s handling of Brady, it’s safe to assume that the friction that exists between these two sides isn’t just media gibberish.
Russell Wilson stays winning. https://t.co/30J5QQ1yvQ
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 30, 2021
Last season Patriots coaches openly made fun of Brady when he struggled at the beginning of the year. Then the tables turned when New England fell to the bottom of the AFC East, while Brady went on to claim a seventh career championship with his new team.
A rivalry clearly exists.
Will this weekend’s showdown ultimately be a cathartic event that lets everyone move on peacefully to the next chapters of their careers? Time will tell.