Reimer: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick show their differences in responses to ESPN the Magazine cover story

Alex Reimer
November 07, 2017 - 12:14 pm

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It should no longer be surprising when Tom Brady refuses to comment on stories about him. After all, the Patriots quarterback didn’t even publicly criticize NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during the Deflategate saga. 

But that doesn’t make Brady’s ability to turn the other cheek any less mystifying. It’s natural to respond to rumors and conjecture. But Brady has trained himself to say nothing. 

In an explosive ESPN the Magazine story, author Seth Wickersham cites a source close to Bill Belichick who predicts there’s a “collision coming” between the coach and Brady. The apparent rift centers around Brady’s personal guru, Alex Guerrero, who travels to away games and hangs on the sidelines despite not being on the Patriots' staff. 

When asked about the piece on “Kirk & Callahan” Monday, Brady said he had not read it. He went on to talk about why he still cooperates with ESPN for stories, given how some of the network’s reporters spread false or misleading information during Deflategate.

“I guess I’m a pretty trusting person,” Brady said. “I guess I'm definitely someone who tries to please. I always try to take the high road. If there’s ever a conflict, I try to step away. That’s just the way I am.”

That thinking aligns with the teachings of Brady’s favorite book, The Four Agreements, which is authored by a Mexican spiritualist named Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the agreements is to not take anything personally, because it can make you “easy prey for those predators who try to send you emotional poison.” Holding grudges, according to Miguel Ruiz, can only keep a person down.

Brady demurred when specifics about Belichick’s relationships with Guerrero came up, only saying he has “no idea” about whether there’s an issue between the two. It’s apparent Brady just wants to stay out of it. 

That approach differs from how Belichick responded to the story on “Dale & Holley with Keefe” Monday afternoon. The Patriots coach curtly categorized his relationship with Brady as “good,” saying they’ve met twice per week for the last 16 years. His most noteworthy answer came when host Michael Holley asked a question about how Belichick handles his players. Belichick circled back to the ESPN piece, shooting down the anonymously sourced allegations contained within it. 

"I am not really sure if there’s a specific question here," he said. "I mean, as usual, I think a lot of comments in the article you’re referring to were unattributed to anybody, if I am not mistaken. I don’t think anybody said anything. This is just a general random opinion about I am not sure exactly what. If we would like to talk about somebody who has an informed opinion about something that is one thing, I mean otherwise we’re just talking about a lot of fake news here about just putting out a lot of things that are unattributable. As usual. I’d say we get a lot of that.”

There it is –– the Donald Trump-approved “fake news” insult. Much like the Commander-in-Chief, Belichick seems to hold a deep distrust of the media. He said as much in his fawning Trump endorsement letter last year. 

Contrary to popular belief, Belichick responds to negative stories when he deems it appropriate. The greatest example of this came during Deflategate. First, Belichick absolved himself from blame, telling reporters to ask Brady about his footballs. Then two days later, Belichick introduced the Ideal Gas Law to the world, and never spoke about Deflategate at length again.

As one of the most overanalyzed people in the world, Brady’s seeming ability to disengage from negativity might be one of the many reasons for his incredible longevity. It certainly was on display this week, especially in comparison to Belichick, who still fights back when it serves him. 


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