If the New England Patriots had been willing to comply with some demands from Tom Brady, perhaps the legendary quarterback would have ended his NFL career with the organization.
Brady has already seen his footballing life after New England look a lot like his time there: winning. In his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady won his seventh Super Bowl.
Why is Tom Brady no longer with the Patriots?
Brady wanted a fair contract (more money), more contributions
With his contract about to expire after the 2019 season, Brady showed up to training camp ready to make a deal to keep him in New England for the rest of his career. Seth Wickersham reported in his next book, “It is better to be afraid.” Brady, who turned 42 that month, felt like he earned the right to a contract that would lead him to age 45. Owner Robert Kraft was an advocate of keeping Brady happy.
The talks turned contentious, Wickersham reports, with the deadline to sign an extension that month. The Patriots eventually announced a two-year extension, but those years would be canceled at the end of the 2019 league year, and the team would not be able to place the franchise tag on the quarterback.
Brady’s home in Brookline, Massachusetts, later went up for sale. He stifled suspicions at the time, but it turned out to be one of the first steps in his departure.
“Brady was tired of accepting favorable team deals without having a say in how the money saved was being spent, and he still wanted a long-term contractual commitment,” Wickersham writes in his book.
The quarterback also wanted more information on personnel decisions. Belichick rejected it and regretted what he felt was a Kraft-Brady alliance.
“Belichick told associates that every organizational decision was now in support of Brady, geared toward pleasing him and making him successful, and that Kraft meddled with the team, sometimes with opinions, sometimes with restrictive budgets,” writes Wickersham.
The Buccaneers signed Brady to a two-year, $ 50 million contract and extended it one more year to 2022. Brady used to accept team-friendly deals so that Belichick could spend to address needs on the Patriots roster.
The Brady-Belichick relationship carried down
Aside from the contract and the money, and despite their personality differences, Brady and Belichick found common ground through their work ethic and ambition, Wickersham said on the “ESPN Daily” podcast about his book.
After the Patriots’ Super Bowl 51 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, according to Wickersham, Brady’s thinking shifted to his off-field activities. Brady recently told the Wall Street Journal “I feel like I’m living two lives” – his current football life and the post-football life he has already built.
“‘Hey, we’ve made history now, I can venture outside of my own business and promote my own business … I can have a camera crew follow me for’ Tom vs. Time ‘(documentary),'” Wickersham described the thought. of the future member of the Hall of Fame.
Wickersham referenced a 2017 loss to the Houston Texans, after which Belichick crushed Brady during a filming session in front of the team and other coaches rebuked his performance further.
Brady, Wickersham said on the podcast, is “a relentless positive thinker and a positive speaker. There will always be a problem inherent in that with Bill Belichick. ”Belichick, while also optimistic, had a process that focused on the negatives of each situation.
Then there was friction over the “fitness guru” and friend of Brady. Alex Guerrero, who guided the famous “TB12 method” driving the quarterback’s lifestyle and wellness company of the same name. Belichick apparently banned it from the team plane; Guerrero has his own office in Tampa Bay, according to Wickersham.
Belichick too seemed to question Brady’s toughness following a comeback win in the 2017 AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brady suffered a cut to his hand in practice that week.
“Tom did a great job and he’s a tough guy. We all know that, okay? Belichick responded when asked if the injury affected the game plan. “But we are not talking about open heart surgery here.”
It doesn’t matter: the Patriots won the Super Bowl. However, the damage was done. Brady told those close to him that he no longer wanted to play for Belichick, according to Wickersham.
Brady wanted to try things outside of New England
During an April 2020 interview on “The Howard Stern Show” (Sirius XM) – A two-hour affair with the legendary radio host, his first extensive public comments since signing in Tampa Bay – Brady was open and revealing when asked about his Belichick-linked legacy.
“I think it’s actually quite a (expletive) argument for people to say that. Because, again, I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine,” he told Stern. “The fact that you could say, ‘Would I have the same success without it, the same level of success?’ I don’t think it would have been, but I feel the same way backwards too.
“Having him allowed me to be the best that I could be. So I’m thankful for that, and I think he feels the same way about me because we’ve expressed it to each other.”
Stern asked, “But Tom, isn’t there some resentment on your part, because he didn’t make you a Patriot for life?”
“No, absolutely not,” Brady replied. “Because it is part of my life to experience something very different.”
How it ended: a tearful goodbye
When precautions against the coronavirus pandemic went into effect in mid-March 2020, Brady texted Kraft to set up a socially estranged gathering.
Kraft had done everything possible to keep the trio together, Wickersham said. He was aware of Brady’s waning patience and offered olive branches to the quarterback.
“We are not going to continue together,” Brady told Kraft. Both men began crying, according to Wickersham.
Brady also wanted to visit Belichick, who said he was not available. This week, the coach denied the claim that he did not want to meet in person. During a phone call that night, Belichick offered effusive praise, Wickersham reported. Brady said this week that their relationship is in good shape.
“They were no longer bosses and star employees, but two employees who together had achieved something unprecedented that was coming to an end,” said Wickersham.
In Tampa Bay it was for Brady. So far so good, for him.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.