It’s been two months since the Patriots were dethroned by the Philadelphia Eagles. Two months to reset and be “on to” the next season. Yet, Patriots Nation is still stuck in the past. While the Celtics and Bruins are having great success in the playoffs and the Red Sox are off to the best start in MLB in 31 years, it’s the Patriots who are dominating the airwaves. The topic? How will the disconnect between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick be resolved?
Most of Patriots Nation is still blaming Belichick for the Super Bowl loss. The decision to not play Malcolm Butler has been the topic of town for two months. The coach who led the Patriots to five Super Bowl titles continues to get the blame for the game. The decision to bench Butler certainly should be questioned, but this has now gone much further than that. Every week, we’re getting hints from current and former Patriots players about their opinion of Belichick. The sad part is that it’s been done in a very passive aggressive way on social media. Gronk tweets. Brady social media likes. “Tom vs. Time”. It’s becoming clear that there’s a problem that needs resolving…and the finger is clearly being pointed at Bill.
Patriots Nation has applauded Belichick for eighteen years for his approach. He does it his way. He demands a lot of his players. He treats every player the same whether you’re the #1 player on the team or #53. There’s a high level of expectation as a good soldier and teammate when you play for the New England Patriots.
“Do Your Job”
Do what’s in the best interest of the “team”
This is the winning culture that Bill Belichick has created. He has not changed. But, now he’s supposed to change his approach and give Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski more leeway? Doesn’t that go against “The Patriot Way”. The problem we have here folks as that the majority of Patriots Nation is not looking at the root of this problem. Let’s take a step back to 2015.
When the Deflategate allegations started, Bill Belichick’s response included “Tom’s personal preference on his footballs are something that he can talk about in much better detail and information that I could possibly provide”. Many viewed this as the coach throwing his QB under the bus. Others viewed it as Belichick looking to protect himself after the Spygate scandal. The big question is how did Brady feel about it? Was this the start of the disconnect? Or, could it have been when the Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo and Belichick referenced the need to plan for the future at that position?
We can still all speculate into whether or not Brady deserved to be suspended for four games, but here are the facts:
1. The Patriots accepted the league penalty without challenging it.
2. After initially challenging the suspension, Brady eventually accepted the decision.
3. Jim McNally and John Jastremski have not been heard from in three years. This is no coincidence.
4. When first asked about deflating footballs, Bill Belichick pointed the finger at Tom Brady to opine on the subject.
OK. Let’s move on from Deflategate because there’s a much bigger issue here. Keep in mind that Belichick has not changed his approach and for good reason. It’s been very successful and it works. What else has changed on the team? #1 on the list is Tom Brady’s promotion of his personal brand – TB12. In 2015, rather than wearing Patriots hats and gear to his press conferences, Brady began with the TB12 showcase. With it, came Alex Guerrero.
Let’s be clear. What Guerrero has done for Brady has worked. He has been healthy and he has continued to play at an elite level. With that said, it was not working from a team perspective. The conflict between Guerrero and the Patriots training staff was such an issue that the Patriots had to kick Guerrero out of the Patriots facility and not allow him on the sidelines. Brady didn’t like it. Interestingly, Jimmy Garoppolo was traded during this time and there are reports that Belichick was demanded to make a deal. Hmm…
So, now we get to “Tom vs. Time”. This was intended to show the life of Tom Brady with his drive to be the very best. Yet, the final episode ends with him being quoted saying the following:
“What are we doing this for? Who are we doing this for? Why are we doing this?”
On top of it, Gisele stated that Tom “just wants to be appreciated”.
Huh? Did “Time” win?
This week’s report from Adam Schefter that Brady has not committed to playing in 2018 has brought the Brady-Belichick feud back to center stage. According to the report, the belief is that Brady will be back. With that said, how is this even a question? The Patriots just traded the next guy to go all in on Brady. Now he’s wavering after the team invested their entire franchise in him?
In summary, we have two legendary sports figures here in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
The coach has kept to his values of team first and “The Patriot Way”.
The player has put his personal brand at the forefront, promoted it, and had his personal trainer begin to attempt to take over the locker room from a training standpoint.
The coach stopped it.
The coach wears Patriots gear to every press conference.
The player wears gear that has his personal initials and number on it. Is this in line with “The Patriot Way”?
Herb Brooks said it best. “The name of the front of the jersey is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back.”
TB12. “Tom vs. Time”.
Belichick hasn’t changed. Brady clearly has. Yet, it’s Belichick who continues to get the heat regarding this conflict. Belichick is now the bad guy even though he simply remained steady with the approach we have all applauded him on for eighteen years.
Be careful what you wish for, Patriots Nation. In his last season without Bill Belichick, the coach waiting in the wings, Josh McDaniels, had an offense ranked dead last in the NFL as the Rams offensive coordinator…
…and his quarterback, who turns 41 in August, appears to be buying into the “TB12 Way” a lot more than the “Patriot Way” nowadays.