Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are widely regarded as the most successful player-and-coach combo in NFL history. The pair claimed six Super Bowl titles over their two decades together with the New England Patriots – a mark that largely speaks for itself.
That said, their split was objectively acrimonious.
Patriots coaches openly mocked Brady when he left to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. Then the tables got turned when Belichick struggled in New England, while Brady went on to claim a seventh career championship with his new team.
This week Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero took a pretty blatant shot at Belichick, arguing that he never “evolved” in how he treated his superstar quarterback.
“It was like Bill never really … I think his emotions or feelings never evolved with age,” Guerrero told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald on Wednesday. “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.”
So how does Brady feel about all this? On Thursday, the Bucs star got brutally honest about his perception of Belichick and this entire situation.
“Great respect and admiration for my time there,” Brady said, as reported by Nick Shook of NFL.com. “I had 20 great years there. I kind of spoke that the last 18 months. …
“Everyone has protective feelings and emotions as friends and family members, and that’s just part of being in sports. And you have a lot of people who because they’re not out there, they want to protect, and it’s a very caring and loving thing that a lot of people do. From my standpoint, I had a great time (in New England), but really my focus has been on trying to be the best that I can be for this team. Trying to go out and be a winning quarterback, be a championship-level quarterback for this organization because they certainly deserve it.”
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 24, 2021
Part of this talk is the byproduct of the looming Week 4 showdown between Tampa Bay and New England. The other part of it is the general recent dysfunctionality of the Patriots relative to the success and stableness the Buccaneers have experienced since Brady’s arrival.
Obviously it’s still too early to tell, and anything can happen going forward, but it seems unlikely that Belichick will win another title without Brady any time soon. And if that ends up being the case, historically it’ll be hard to make any other argument beyond “Bill Belichick needed Tom Brady a lot more than Tom Brady needed him.”