The buildup to Tom Brady’s return to Foxborough has been insane. It’s been the number one sports headline across every major network all week. Rightfully so I’d say. There’s really no comparison to an event like this. Tom Brady was the symbol of Boston sports for two decades. There’s never been an athlete as successful as Tom Brady in their field.
However, I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend across all of these Brady return stories and headlines. That trend being the national media dragging Bill Belichick’s name through the mud.
Robert Kraft once called Belichick the "biggest f*cking asshole in my life."— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 29, 2021
The inexcusable Butler benching, A near fistfight with Eric Mangini, Belichick supporting Trump made players turn on him… lots of interesting stuff
More from @SethWickersham https://t.co/C0CFeTlKo6 pic.twitter.com/FDOSjax2sc
Sometimes I wonder if Bill Belichick could have salvaged things with Tom Brady just by uttering a simple “Thank you” every now and then.— Tony Massarotti (@TonyMassarotti) September 29, 2021
Mac Jones looked shaky all day, didn't have great protection, wound up throwing 3 INTs. Belichick falls to 1-2. Continues to get exposed without the QB who made him – the one whose revenge tour heads to New England next Sunday night. Bill: the GOAT is coming for YOU.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) September 26, 2021
These are just a few easy examples I picked out, but there are plenty more. These don’t even include the comments that Brady’s father and trainer have made against Belichick.
Tom Brady’s dad confirms that Bill Belichick didn’t want him back with the Patriots:— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) September 22, 2021
“Damn right. Belichick wanted him out the door.” pic.twitter.com/gy38pRAN9T
It turns out Tom Brady Week is also “Trash On Belichick Week.”
Look, I get it. People blame Bill for Tom’s departure. They may not be wrong to put some of the blame on him, because it does seem like for the last 4-5 years of their relationship, Bill was itching to go to a younger QB. The whole Jimmy Garropolo fiasco is proof of that.
However, saying it is 100% Belichick’s fault for Brady’s departure is just asinine. What’s even worse is that people are now trying to discredit Belichick in one of the dumbest arguments in the history of sports: who is more responsible for New England’s success, Brady or Bill?
From national media to even local Patriots fans, so many people have spoken out against Bill. Amid all this ‘Brady coming home’ hysteria, apparently everyone has forgotten that Bill Belichick is the greatest coach in the history of football. That statement is true and has been true for many years now.
It’s crazy what a year of underperforming does to your reputation. The last twenty years of Belichick’s genius washed away due to a 7-9 season. The first losing season in TWENTY YEARS I might add.
The whole Brady/Belichick debate has a very simple answer: you don’t get one without the other. Both are all-time football greats, but what makes them legendary was their time together. Brady doesn’t go to 9 Super Bowls without Bill and vice versa.
Bill even admitted as much:
Bill Belichick, who has a losing career record without Tom Brady, was asked if he believes he would have had the same level of success without Brady?— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 1, 2021
Belichick: "Of course not."
"There's no quarterback I would rather have than Tom Brady. I was very lucky to have Tom." pic.twitter.com/HlNKgBok0P
The first half of the dynasty was fueled by Bill’s Incredible defenses, while the second half of the dynasty was fueled by Brady and the offense. It’s a Yin and Yang situation. The debate has never made sense to me and never will. You need them both in order to get the insane 20-year run that New England had.
As for Brady’s departure, Bill played a large role in it, but putting all the blame entirely on him is not looking at the bigger picture.
The reality is it didn’t make sense for Brady to stick around. Every great team has to pay the piper eventually, and it was time for the Patriots to pay. Years of spending and going “all-in”, mixed with some bad draft decisions, came back to bite them.
They were a team with no cap room and an aging core. Brady caught a glimpse of the offense’s decline in 2019, and knew it wasn’t going to get better anytime soon. He also knows he has more years behind him than ahead (or so we think).
I have to believe the leading factor in his departure was him not wanting to spend his last years in the midst of a rebuild. Not when he could go to sunny Florida to a team with a lot of young talent, cap space, and draft picks.
I think we can already look and see that Brady made the right choice, as much as that hurts to say.
As for Bill, I also don’t totally blame him for wanting to move off Brady. I don’t think anyone could have seen Brady’s career longevity coming. Bill has been known to move off players a few years early rather than wait for their decline. It has worked in many instances, and sometimes come back to bite them in others (i.e. Brady, Richard Seymour, Chandler Jones).
In short, Bill didn’t want to end up like this year’s Pittsburgh Steelers. A team that carries a lot of talent, but is heald back by its over the hill QB.
The divorce was coming for a while, and I think it was for the best. Tom Brady in the 2020 Patriots offense wouldn’t have made a world of difference. That was a bad team, even Brady wouldn’t have been able to save them.
To put all this hate on Bill for the separation is not fair. Like I just said, Bill and the Patriots struggled last year due to years of contending catching up to them. Mixed with the worst COVID situation in the league, and you get the 2020 season.
That shouldn’t erase Belichick’s importance to the dynasty. Let’s not forget he was the one who not only drafted Brady, but had the stones to keep him the starter over franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe. How many incredible players did Bill get over the years as steals? I could write a whole article on that alone how many hidden gems he found undrafted or deep in the draft.
The system he created was the symbol of consistency. How many players took pay cuts and left better situations just to play for Belichick and New England? Everything from clock management to play calling to knowing every ounce of the NFL rulebook. Belichick is a football genius.
He’s the greatest defensive mind in the history of football, the man literally coached up Lawrence Taylor and one of the greatest NFL defenses in the 1987 New York Giants. That was during the early stages of his NFL career by the way.
All I ask is that in the midst of Brady’s return, show respect to both parties involved. Whatever happens on Sunday, it doesn’t mean one is better without the other or one is more important than the other.
Both deserve all the admiration in the world, and that’s that.
Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald
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