Brady vs Belichick Football

Though he didn’t meet in person with Coach Bill Belichick, right, to deliver the news last year that he was leaving the Patriots, Tom Brady said Thursday that “Everything was handled the right way. We handled everything as gracefully as we could.” Steven Senne/Associated Press

The breakdown of the breakup between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is like any fractured relationship.

It’s irretrievably broken, and all that remains is the disagreement over who was more responsible for it.

This much both sides will concede: Brady visited the home of Patriots owner Robert Kraft in the spring of 2020 to tell him he had decided to end his 20-year career with the Patriots and sign with the Buccaneers as a free agent.

But Belichick wasn’t available for an in-person meeting and instead said goodbye on the telephone to the quarterback who had won six Super Bowls with him.

All this has become a juicy subplot to Brady’s return to New England when the Bucs play the Patriots on Sunday night.

On Wednesday, Belichick denied a report that he suggested a phone call as his last communication with Brady.

For his part, Brady insisted Thursday the whole matter was “handled perfect,” and he harbors no bad feelings about the manner in which his career ended with the Patriots.

“All those things are super personal,” Brady said following practice Thursday while nursing a raspy voice. “We had a great relationship. Everything was handled the right way. We handled everything as gracefully as we could. It was an amazing time, and it was handled perfect.

“I mean, everybody understood where we were at, the people involved in the situation. You know, things worked out for the best for all of us, and we’re trying to do the best we can do now. That’s what happens in life. You know, you go through these experiences. You don’t know where life is going to lead.”

Belichick denied a report in an upcoming book, “It’s Better to be Feared” by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, that he told Brady he wasn’t available for an in-person meeting.

“No, that’s not true, and I’ve heard a few things about this book and sounds like it’s a lot of second-, third- and fourth-hand comments, but I’m not going to get into that,” Belichick said during his news conference on Wednesday. “I’m going to focus on this game and try to prepare for the Bucs.”

In fact, Belichick was very complimentary of Brady and his ability to lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl 55 victory in his first season in Tampa Bay.

“I mean, Tom’s had an unbelievable career,” Belichick said. “There’s not enough superlatives and adjectives to compliment him on everything that he’s achieved and continues to achieve, so yeah, it’s unbelievably impressive.”

Brady returned many of the same superlatives Thursday when asked what he appreciated about playing for Belichick.

“I mean, he’s a great coach,” Brady said. “Obviously, a great coach. He has everyone prepared, he does a great job of that. And as I’ve said before, he taught me a lot. He was a great mentor for me for a long time, and I really enjoyed my time in New England. But at the same time, I’m super excited about what we’ve done here.”

However, it’s clear Brady is extremely proud of what he has accomplished in such a short time with the Bucs, overcoming a 7-5 start last season to win eight in a row and his seventh Super Bowl ring.

Tampa Bay is 2-1 heading into Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium, and the only score Brady seems focused on settling is the one between the Bucs and Patriots.

“I think the only thing I know how to do is give it all I can in every day, moment, and the people who really bet on me, I want to do really well for them,” he said. “(GM) Jason (Licht) and (Coach) Bruce (Arians), I thank them for coming into my life and saying, ‘Hey, we really want you to be here.’ It’s been an amazing thing.

“I’m just really excited to go up there and beat a really great football team, and that’s ultimately what this week is about. It’s not about the quarterback. It’s not about the fans or the home crowd or relationships for 20 years. It’s about two good teams going at it, and we’ve got to do a great job. It’s going to be a huge test. Last week was a huge test; we didn’t quite beat it. This is another huge test, we’ve got to go meet the challenge.”

INJURY REPORT: The Patriots added another name to the list of players who are dealing with an injury this week: Kyle Dugger.

The second-year safety was listed as a limited participant in Thursday’s practice because of a hamstring issue, joining seven other players who were limited. The list includes defensive lineman Henry Anderson (ankle), linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley (shoulder) and Kyle Van Noy (groin), kicker Nick Folk (left knee) and tackle Isaiah Wynn (knee).

Dugger has had a solid start to his second NFL season, emerging as an integral part of the Patriots defense, playing 86% of defensive snaps so far this season.

Running back James White did not participate in practice following a hip injury he sustained in last week’s loss to the New Orleans Saints. He’s expected to land on injured reserve because of the season-ending injury.


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