Ex-Patriots Reveal Harsh Truth of Playing Under Bill Belichick

2022: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick look on after a Bears interception in the fourth quarter in
2022: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick look on after a Bears interception in the fourth quarter in / Bob Breidenbach / PROVIDENCE JOURNAL /

On Friday, the first two episodes of the "Dynasty", a 10-episode documentary that delves into the New England Patriots' dynasty from 2000 to 2020, will be released. Although the documentary doesn't drop until Friday, some tantalizing items have already begun to percolate.

One quote in particular has caught the ear of Patriots fans. Speaking about his departure from New England, legendary quarterback Tom Brady was adamant that his time with the Patriots had run its course and strongly insinuated that resentment towards his former coach Bill Belichick was at the center of that decision. Brady left New England in free agency following the 2019 season and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he would win a Super Bowl title within his first season.

"Me and Coach Belichick, we did what we loved and competed for 20 years together, but I wasn't going to sign another contract (in New England) even if I wanted to play until (I was) 50. Based on how things had gone, I wasn't going to sign up for more of it."

Tom Brady via the "Dynasty" documentary

The Athletic was allowed to preview the documentary, and Chad Graff transcribed several of the most compelling nuggets.

Friction between Belichick and Brady is far from a new revelation and has been well-documented in recent years, especially in light of their divorce. With Belichick's exodus from Foxborough and Brady's retirement, it is fair to expect that the curtain may be pulled back even further.

The first seeds of their dissension can be traced all the way back to 2008, when Belichick reportedly internally floated the idea of trading Brady and expressed his desire to win a Super Bowl without him. Ultimately, Brady would be the one to hoist the Lombardi Trophy without the other.

The disharmony between the two was further driven by the franchise's second-round selection of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014. Belichick wasn't exactly covert about his motivation for drafting Garoppolo, stating after the draft "We know what Tom's age and contract situation is." Prior to that 2014 season, Belichick had also reportedly presented owner Robert Kraft "with a study detailing how even the greatest quarterbacks drop off in their mid-30s." Belichick's belief that Brady was in the twilight of his career undoubtedly fueled the quarterback in his late 30s and 40s.

Now, Brady's comments might include a dose of revisionist history. It is also likely easier for Brady to be convictive in hindsight, now knowing how his career post-Patriots played out. Brady's tenure in Tampa Bay was undeniably successful, as he added to his record Super Bowl title while performing at an MVP-caliber level.

The dynamic between Belichick and Brady has been polarizing, following their split there has been constant contention over how credit for the Patriots dynasty should be divvied up.

Brady wasn't the only one who felt the strain of playing under Belichick, according to Graff:

"Players, including several still on the roster, disclose just how difficult it was playing for Belichick. 'It was brutal,' Matthew Slater said. Rob Gronkowski described pulling up to 1 Patriot Place and not wanting to get out of his car to go into work. Wes Welker compared Brady to an abused dog for continually going back to work for Belichick."

Chad Graff of The Athletic

Now, make no mistake, with Belichick at the helm the Patriots were historically successful. The team won six Super Bowl titles, tied for the most in the NFL. Between 2001 and 2019, they earned 17 playoff berths, played in 13 AFC Championship Games and nine Super Bowls. Brady and Belichick definitely didn't always see eye to eye, but they were unquestionably historically successful as a tandem. Both of these can be true.

Belichick's militaristic and "dictatorial style" were easier to rationalize when the team was annually booking trips to the AFC Championship Game, but as the team's win total has dropped, so has players' patience for his abrasive style. Belichick's his style is undoubtedly easier to criticize when the on-field success isn't there to justify it. Reflection from former players also gives credence to a reported reason that the former Patriots coach didn't land a job: concerns over his ability to relate to this generation of players.

The first two of the 10 episodes will be released on Friday on Apple TV+. Two episodes will continue to be released each Friday until March 15.

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