Hannable: If Patriots trio truly ‘stand united,’ why is there still drama between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? And where’s Robert Kraft?

Ryan Hannable
April 18, 2018 - 11:33 am

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

There were rumblings of tension within the Patriots organization for much of last season, but things really rose to a new level following Seth Wickersham's ESPN piece published on Jan. 4 titled, “Beginning of the end for New England Patriots.”

The story detailed the increasing tension between Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and much of it centered around Brady’s personal trainer Alex Guerrero.

In an unprecedented move, the Patriots responded to the piece by putting out a joint statement from the three.

“For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship,” the statement read. “In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate. The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years. It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united.”

Which brings us to now, just over three months later. 

“We stand united,” huh?

If that is true, why isn’t Brady attending the offseason workout program like he has every year of his 18-year career (except from 2008-10)? Why doesn’t it appear the Guerrero issue has been worked out? Why is Brady reportedly not committed to playing in 2018 yet? Was there actually a meeting between the three after the season?

All of these things say the trio in fact is not “united.”

Now that Jimmy Garoppolo is gone, Guerrero seems to be the biggest internal issue with the organization and according to Wickersham, Kraft is sending mixed signals by trying to appease both sides.

"I was told that before the Super Bowl Robert Kraft had told people, ‘Look, we have to figure out a way to limit Alex. Yeah, he’s a problem,’ and then he flew out to the Super Bowl on Robert Kraft’s private plane,” Wickersham said Wednesday on K&C. “There’s inconsistencies and I don’t know how it resolves itself and I am not sure it will.”

For someone who is said to be one of the great mediators in the entire sport, where is he now? Why hasn’t the power struggle between Belichick and Brady been settled? 

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. So, where is he now when the disagreement involves two of the most influential and important people in his organization?

Kraft’s legacy is also on the line. Does he want to be part of the reason why the Brady-Belichick relationship ended so poorly?

The Patriots owner needs to get Brady and Belichick in a room together and clear the air — hash out all their differences out and get everyone on the same page for 2018. This should have been done in the weeks after the season, but there’s still time before the real football work begins.

Both sides need to make some concessions involving Guerrero. Although it may be hard for the coach, Guerrero probably should be allowed back in Gillette Stadium to work with Brady and others, but guidelines need to be set with how he acts, especially when it comes to the Patriots’ own training staff. Clearly, what Guerrero does is beneficial to the players he works with, just not when it comes to bad-mouthing the methods of the Patriots' training staff.

As owner of the team, it’s Kraft’s job to ensure this takes place and all sides are pleased.

While the trio may never fully “stand united,” they need to get somewhere close and Kraft needs to lead the way.

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