It is the end of an era in New England. After two decades with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady announced he would leave the franchise he helped turn into the NFL’s greatest dynasty. “Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments.,” he said in a statement. The news sent shockwaves through the sports world — and for good reason.
After being drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, Tom Brady was a long shot, hand-chosen by Bill Belichick. According to Business Insider, the Patriots head coach had closely studied Brady and was impressed by the QB’s “mental makeup and leadership skills,” even though no other teams seemed interested in him at all. Flash forward 20 years later: 18-year team captain, 17 playoff appearances, and nine Super Bowl appearances (including six wins and four-time Super Bowl MVP awards). We may never see a run like that again.
But was Brady’s departure from New England years in the making or was it destiny? “It will end badly,” Brady’s father said of his son’s future with the team in 2015 (via ESPN). “It does end badly. And I know that because I know what Tommy wants to do. He wants to play till he’s 70. … It’s a cold business. And for as much as you want it to be familial, it isn’t.” Let’s huddle up and call the real reasons Tom Brady left the Patriots.
Did Bill Belichick want Tom Brady gone sooner?
On Oct. 31, 2017, the Patriots traded Tom Brady’s backup, Jimmy Garoppolo (above right) to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for the 49ers’ second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft (via ESPN). The problem? Head coach Bill Belichick reportedly didn’t want to pull the trigger on this trade and wanted Garoppolo to be his quarterback of the future.
According to a separate ESPN report, “The Patriots repeatedly offered Garoppolo four-year contract extensions, in the $17 million to $18 million range” and promised to “go higher” once Brady retired. Garoppolo refused since he wanted to be a starter, but Belichick was unable to promise a timetable for that to happen. The report then describes a fateful and contentious meeting before that year’s trade deadline between Belichick and Patriots CEO Robert Kraft that lasted “half the day.” Belichick reportedly walked out “furious and demoralized” after Kraft laid down the law: trade Garoppolo, and then “find the best quarterback in the draft and develop him.” In other words: Brady’s job was safe — at least from Garoppolo.
After the trade was completed, Brady was reportedly “liberated,” however, an internal power struggle within the organization — with Belichick on one side and Brady and Kraft on the other — was now public. “He won,” a Patriots staffer said of Brady. A meeting between the three men was scheduled to “clear the air,” but according to the report, “it never happened.”
Tom Brady's personal trainer caused a rift
Another rift between Tom Brady and the Patriots organization occurred in 2017 when Bill Belichick banned Brady’s trainer, close friend, and TB12 business partner, Alex Guerrero, from the team’s plane and sideline. Per CBS Sports, Brady credits Guerrero, for his ability to play at a high level past the age of 40.
However, Guerrero’s alternative and holistic training methods and constant presence at the Patriots facility caused friction between the trainer and the team’s official medical and training personnel who preferred a more traditional approach. It finally came to head. According to a report in The Boston Globe (via CBS Sports), Belichick “stripped Guerrero of his special team privileges” and banned him from training players “other than Brady in his exclusive office at Gillette Stadium.”
Belichick saw Guerrero as a distraction, but the decision to outright ban him was difficult due to Brady’s standing and influence within the franchise. “Tom wants him. What am I supposed to do?” Belichick allegedly said. In the end, the decision was made. When asked about it during his weekly radio appearance on Boston’s WEEI, Brady said, “I don’t have any comment on that other than to say Alex, it’s been well-documented, has been a huge part of what I do and I’m so fortunate to have him not only as a friend, but with everything that we’ve been able to do together.”
Gisele Bundchen hinted that Tom Brady's days were numbered
Gisele Bundchen has zero problems speaking her mind about the New England Patriots and her husband Tom Brady. Who can forget her infamous rant after the Patriots’ loss to the New York Giants in 2012? In a game marred by dropped passes from Patriots’ receivers, Gisele let her frustrations known in full view of reporters inside Lucas Oil Stadium while waiting for an elevator. “My husband cannot f*****g throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time,” she said (via Deadspin). “I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times.”
Seven years later, Gisele and Brady sold their nearly $34 million Boston mansion, leading many to speculate on Brady’s future in New England. During an Instagram Q&A two weeks before the 2020 free agency period, the supermodel was asked by a fan how she enjoyed living in the northeast. “Yes, I love it. I’ve been living there for 12 years. My kids love it. They love the snow,” she responded (via NBC Sports). “As a Brazilian, I have a little harder time with the cold but I really can appreciate the beauty of the seasons there.”
However, when asked where she and Tom would be living, she was maybe too diplomatic. “I would love to know where I’m going to be living this year but I don’t know that yet,” she replied, adding, “But hopefully somewhere nice. And wherever my husband is happy playing, so we will see.”
Was there a communication breakdown between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
When Tom Brady signed an extension with the New England Patriots 2019, the writing was clearly on the wall. The terms of the contract, per NFL insider Ian Rappaport, included a provision that didn’t allow the Patriots “to franchise or transition tag” Brady for the 2020 season and “automatically” voided the final two years of the extension — essentially making Brady a free agent in 2020.
Despite being a free agent, Tom Brady going back to the only team he’s ever known would be a no-brainer. Not so fast. According to NBC Sports Boston, Brady and Bill Belichick had an early March 2020 telephone discussion “that wasn’t particularly productive.” A source told the publication that Belichick was strictly business and spoke to Brady like he was “still under contract.” Was that the last straw for Brady?
For Tom E. Curran, an NBC Sports Boston reporter who covers the Patriots, that appears to be the case. “In the end, a tangible effort by the Patriots to keep Tom Brady in New England never happened. No negotiation,” he tweeted. “Just the intimation that it was on Brady to say what he wanted. For Brady, that stance spoke volumes.” The Boston Globe‘s Ben Volin had a more succinct take on the negotiations. “Source: ‘They gave Tom a number. He didn’t want it,'” he tweeted. Yikes.
Aqib Talib offered some insider information
In March 2013, cornerback Aqib Talib signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots. However, after a solid season where he notched four interceptions and fourteen passes defended, he wasn’t re-signed the following year. While discussing Tom Brady’s pending free agency, Brady’s former teammate revealed his dealings with Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization and rightfully predicted how Brady’s situation would play out.
“If (Belichick is) treating everybody the same in the meeting room, he’s probably treating everybody the same around free agency time, as well,” Talib said on NFL Network (via Sporting News). “I think Tom is gone. I think it’s a done deal, and Bill is going to be Bill. Them calls are going to be short and to the point.”
“We got a report that said (their call) didn’t go well,” he added. “I had a call that didn’t go well with Bill before, so I can imagine what happened on that call. It’s kind of a chip on both of their shoulders that’s like, ‘I want to do this thing and see if I could do it without him.'”
Statements from Tom Brady's bosses offered nothing but love
After 20 years of leading the New England Patriots to unprecedented glory, Tom Brady didn’t leave as a player, he left as a hero and icon. And who better to reflect on his legacy than statements from the two men who took a chance on him in 2000 — Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
“How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he’s given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it’s ending? I love Tom like a son and I always will,” Kraft said. “There simply will never be another Tom Brady. I now look forward to the day we can bring him back home to New England to celebrate his Patriots career, his endless achievements and his legacy as the greatest of all time. I love him very much.”
“Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators. Tom lived and perpetuated our culture. On a daily basis, he was a tone-setter and a bar raiser,” Belichick said. “Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect, and appreciation … Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.”
A new beginning for Tom Brady
As expected, it didn’t take long. Tom Brady has a new team: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. NFL Network‘s Ian Rapport was the first to break the news. “Former #Patriots QB Tom Brady has an agreement in principle to join the #Bucs, source said. It is believed to be roughly $30M per year,” he tweeted.
Rapport elaborated on what led to Brady’s decision during an appearance on the NFL Network. He stated that “family and being on the east coast” was more important than offensive “scheme or what he’d be running.” And according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, we might know what the Buccaneers offered Brady in addition to $30 million. “Some of those things that Brady wants: Control over roster, and he wants to be part of making decisions on the play calling,” she said on an episode of Get Up.
It also appears Gisele Bundchen got that warm weather she wanted, too.
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