This week’s looming showdown between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots marks the first time Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are squaring off since their messy divorce.
You will recall, Patriots coaches openly mocked Brady when he struggled at times in Tampa Bay last season. Then the tables turned when Belichick’s Patriots tumbled to the basement of the AFC East, while Brady went on to claim a seventh career championship with his new team.
Ahead of what promises to be a fun Week 4 battle, Brady’s dad took the temperature up a notch when he told Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston that he and his son felt vindicated after proving Belichick wrong and winning a title last season.
On Tuesday, Brady responded to his dad’s comments.
“I’ve actually prepared a statement that I wanted to say, and it’s really all that I have to say on the subject,” Brady joked, per ESPN NFL insider Jenna Laine. “Comments made by Thomas Edward Brady, a 77-year-old insurance company CEO who should know better at this point in his life, doesn’t necessarily reflect the views or positions held by his son, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr., so furthermore should Tom Sr. continue to speak out on behalf of his son without the express written consent, Tom Jr. reserves the right to eventually put him in a home against his will. That’s all I have to say.”
Funnily enough, Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero also made some interesting comments about Belichick.
“It was like Bill never really … I think his emotions or feelings never evolved with age,” Guerrero told Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald last 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.”
Brady, for his part, has remained pretty consistent when it comes to his feelings on Belichick.
“Great respect and admiration for my time there,” he said.
“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.”
On Monday night’s episode of his Let’s Go! podcast with Jim Gray and Larry Fitzgerald, Brady reiterated those feelings once more.
“I have 20 years of being there and obviously he’s a great mentor for me,” Brady said.
“And yes I think there’s definitely great lessons I’ve learned from him. He’s a great football coach, and he does a great job for his team. And, you know any player, I think they would just hope that their coaches give them everything they got. I’m sure every great coach wants every player to give them everything they got. And I think that’s what makes a great relationship.”
Belichick, meanwhile, doesn’t really seem to understand the criticism he has gotten from Brady’s team.
“Over the last two decades, everything we did, every single decision we made in terms of major planning, was made with the idea of how to make things best for Tom Brady,” Belichick said of his relationship with Brady, per Seth Wickersham of ESPN.
Moreover, Belichick doesn’t believe he was the reason for Brady’s departure from New England.
Cowboys fans always dress to impress. https://t.co/NHedqEFGfq
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 28, 2021
“There were a lot of things there — he looked at his options and made his decision,” Belichick said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” this past week. “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.”
Much as was the case with the infamous Los Angeles Lakers breakup between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, there is just something ultra-fascinating about the divorce between Brady and Belichick. The fact that the latter struggled so mightily last season, to the point where coaches around the league were openly mocking him, while the former claimed another Super Bowl, only adds further intrigue.
Who will win the battle this weekend? Tampa Bay, probably. Who will eventually win the war? Time will tell.