According to a new report, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft all had differing takes on how to proceed with the Antonio Brown situation.
One of the hallmarks of the New England Patriots‘ incredible success this millennium has been their uniformity. Despite all the very different personalities coming in and out of One Patriot Place any given year, the team somehow always manages to get everyone on the same page and buying into ‘the Patriot Way’ just in time to win another championship.
That’s why it’s odd whenever the outside world is able to see any cracks in the veneer – however seemingly tiny they may be.
A couple years ago, there were reports that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady felt underappreciated by team ownership, and perhaps even was at odds with head coach Bill Belichick. Whether or not there was indeed major friction between the two of them – you can add in owner Robert Kraft as well – might never become public knowledge, unless one of these ‘Big 3’ members writes a tell-all book some day (it certainly won’t be Belichick who does that though).
Back in the present moment, a new report released by NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran seems to suggest that once again, there could be trouble in paradise. And while Curran doesn’t go as far as ESPN’s Seth Wickersham did in his piping-hot expose of sorts, it’s still notable that another well-respected sportswriter published a piece on discord between Kraft, Belichick, and Brady.
According to Curran, the Patriots’ three major power players had very different opinions on what to do with Antonio Brown. The disgruntled superstar receiver was under fire (and remains under fire) in the public eye for his alleged role in multiple instances of sexual assault and misconduct. While the Patriots decided to play him anyway in Week 2 against Miami, they eventually ended up releasing him the following week when he supposedly sent threatening text messages to one of his accusers.
Kraft immediately wanted Brown off the team, according to Curran. Belichick was a little bit more conflicted, as he obviously understood the severity of the off-the-field concerns surrounding Brown, but he also knew just what the receiver could do for his offense on the field. And Brady, perhaps selfishly, wanted Brown to remain in the fold as long as possible so he could keep throwing to him.
It’s hard to blame any of the Big 3 for their respective personal opinions on the matter.
Kraft is a savvy businessman, and he knows that as a professional sports team owner, he has a responsibility to the public – aka his customers – to ensure his brand remains appealing and untarnished. It doesn’t matter that Kraft himself remains accused of solicitation charges – he is the one directly responsible for paying the players on his team, and thus he should have final say as to whom he chooses to employ.
Similarly, it’s hard to fault Belichick for getting both sides of the argument. Sure, he can be atrocious to members of the media, and he’s far from the most-likable coach in the NFL. But he’s indisputably the best coach in the NFL and for good reason: he knows how to evaluate talent, and he knows how to coach that talent on the football field. Clearly he must have been excited to work with a luminescent talent like Antonio Brown.
And on that note, so too was Brady. The 42-year-old quarterback has made a career out of winning championships with subpar supporting casts (at least on offense), with the one notable exception being the brief period of time he had both Randy Moss and Wes Welker alongside him. Yes, Rob Gronkowski was a cheat-code, and of course, Julian Edelman somehow remains massively underrated.
Still though, Brady has spent the bulk of his career either throwing to journeyman veterans on the back-nine of their careers, or to New England wide receiver draft picks who wouldn’t end up working out or earning his trust. He had to be thrilled at the chance of working with Antonio Brown… and can you really blame him?
All in all, the Patriots are well-equipped to survive – and even thrive – in the post-Antonio Brown world they now find themselves in. They’re still the Super Bowl favorites even without him, they still have a potent offense, and their defense is arguably the best in the league.
And yet, it’s not surprising in the slightest to learn that their Big 3 was very much divided on how best to handle the AB controversy, and especially on the path the team ended up taking with him. Now it just remains to be seen whether or not that division manifests itself down the line as ‘friction’ once again, or if winning – like usual – heals all wounds up in New England.