Sports

ESPN Story Suggests Turmoil between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft

A new piece details the inner workings of a New England Patriots franchise embroiled in a power struggle.

Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, and Tom Brady receive the Lombardi trophy and are surrounded by confetti

Photo via AP/Matt Slocum

All is not fine in Foxborough.

An inside look at the organization published by ESPN on Friday morning details the conflicting egos and motivations of a notoriously secretive franchise. And tension between owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady has reportedly reached a fever pitch, leaving some members of the organization wondering how much longer the trio will remain united.

For 17 remarkable years, Belichick and Brady have thrived together on the field and at the bank, but a smoldering power struggle (accelerated by Brady’s health guru, Alex Guerrero) swirls behind closed doors. The ESPN profile casts Guerrero—whose controversial methods and role with the team have raised eyebrows and conflict in the past—as the most problematic of all, a wedge between Belichick and Brady and a roadblock to success. ESPN reports Patriots players, particularly newer faces, have begun to feel forced to pick a side: Earn Brady’s trust by seeking Guerrero’s treatment or defer to team doctors, as Belichick prefers.

Perhaps the most illustrative example of the behind-the-scenes tension is the Jimmy Garoppolo trade—painted in the ESPN piece as a boon for Brady and a bruise for Belichick. The Brady/Guerrero faction is portrayed as so displeased with Garoppolo’s presence on the team (due to the suggestion that his drafting was a preparation for Brady’s imminent departure) that he was locked out of the TB12 wellness facility after an injury.

Ultimately, the story suggests, the coach wanted to hold on to the backup, but at the end of the day, Brady, who is apparently addressed as “sir” by some new players, came out on top.

Patriots fans reacted with predictable defensiveness, questioning the truthfulness of the narrative and positioning it as motivational.

 

The team, per its usual methods, declined to comment, telling ESPN only that the reporting contained “several inaccuracies and multiple examples given that absolutely did not occur,” but then “declined to go into detail.” After the perhaps predictable reaction to the story, the team tweeted out a more official statement.

Time, obviously, was going to catch up with the Patriots at some point. All three members of the trio are aging, as Bill Simmons helpfully pointed out, and the tensions of three competitive men in a historic dynasty in an unimaginably high-pressure environment were bound to have to have an effect eventually. But is it time to start paying attention to those rumors that Bill Belichick might be interested in coaching the New York Giants?