Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports

Hannable: Reported issues will not break up Bill Belichick, Tom Brady because Robert Kraft won’t let it

Ryan Hannable
January 05, 2018 - 9:54 am

Could this really be the end of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era in New England?

The biggest takeaway from ESPN’s long-form piece about the power struggle between Brady, Belichick and Robert Kraft was, some inside the Patriots building believe this could be Belichick’s final season as head coach of the team. Having to deal with Alex Guerrero and Brady, as well as Kraft meddling in football matters (like the Jimmy Garoppolo trade) may be too much for him deal with. And at 65 years old he could leave the organization he’s been head coach of since 2000.

Although the piece has its flaws, at its core there are a lot of truths. But these may be exaggerations and will ultimately not break up the best coach-player duo in the history of sports.

Belichick and Brady have been working together for 18 years — 18! Over the course of a long tenure together, there are bound to be disagreements, and some big ones at that. The same thing would happen at any other company if a boss and an employee worked alongside one another for 18 years in the same roles, especially when both excel at their jobs.

All three parties involved have huge egos and with what reportedly went down surrounding the Garoppolo trade it could be argued that in fact, none were in the wrong.

Guerrero stuff aside, Brady is somewhat justified in thinking he should get loyalty in exchange for what he’s done for the franchise, especially winning two Super Bowls in three years, all while approaching age 40. Kraft was also right to show loyalty to Brady, especially with Brady not being paid what other top quarterbacks in the league are. And Belichick was also right for wanting to keep Garoppolo for as long as he possibly could, even into the offseason, and then also being upset at Kraft for interfering in football matters.

The person most likely to depart after this season would be Belichick. Kraft and Brady certainly aren’t going anywhere. But would Belichick really make such a rash decision and end his tenure in New England over Kraft getting involved in one football decision and a petty power struggle with a personal trainer?

That isn’t who Belichick is. This is the man who orchestrated the greatest stretch of years in NFL history and is considered the best coach ever to coach the game. He has a plan for his legacy to live on with his two sons, Steve and Brian, establishing careers as coaches themselves. He appeared to genuinely enjoy last year’s Super Bowl run, partially because he had both his sons on his staff and was able to share that moment with them. He would give all that away over something like this?

Even if he did, Kraft wouldn’t let him.

Kraft’s legacy is as much at stake as it is for Brady and Belichick. Does Kraft want to be known as the reason why the Brady-Belichick relationship ended so poorly and the long-time coach called it quits after his 18th season? The Patriots owner wouldn’t let Belichick walk away.

It wouldn’t be the first time Kraft has acted as peacemaker, either. In 2011 when the NFL was trending towards a lockout, it was Kraft who brought the owners and players together and avoided a work stoppage. Many credit him for saving this potential disaster, and he did it all while dealing with the recent death of his wife, Myra.

Kraft also played a role in getting the referees back to work after their lockout in 2012. Kraft has always seemed to have a special way of bringing people together, even when the stakes are at their highest.

It also wouldn’t be the first time in Boston sports history where an owner has played a role in keeping an executive from leaving over disagreements. In 2005, Theo Epstein re-signed from the Red Sox following issues with Larry Lucchino, but thanks to the work of owner John Henry, Epstein returned months later and stayed with the Red Sox, eventually winning the 2007 World Series.

The Patriots are the most well-known and talked about team in all of sports, which is why when a story like this comes out, it typically gets blown out of proportion.

There’s no denying the Patriots’ run of greatness is nearing the end. Brady is 40, Belichick is 65 and said on record that he doesn’t want to coach into his 70s like Marv Levy. Naturally, this cannot last forever.

Once the dust settles, the parties will meet, which in all likelihood would be after the season, and the trio potentially will come to a resolution.

In fact, Kraft will make sure one is reached.

Comments ()
READ MORE READ LESS