Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft and Tom Brady release response to ESPN's explosive story
The New England Patriots blasted what they called inaccuracies and exaggerations in a bombshell report published by ESPN on Friday that suggested the most successful coach-quarterback duo in NFL history may be headed for a divorce.
The story, by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, said this could be the “beginning of the end” for quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick in New England as rifts have developed between the two and owner Bob Kraft.
It all seemed to come to a head, according to Wickersham, when the Pats dealt quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at the trade deadline in November to the 49ers for a second-round pick. Belichick spent four years developing Garoppolo as the heir apparent to Brady, but Kraft made clear in a meeting with Belichick that Garoppolo was not in the team’s long-term plans, prompting the trade, according to Wickersham.
Wrote Wickersham: “The owner was in Brady’s corner. ‘He won,’ a Patriots staffer says.”
The ESPN report garnered so much attention that the team decided to put out a statement Friday morning addressing it.
“For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship,” said the joint statement from Kraft, Belichick and Brady.
Joint statement from Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady: pic.twitter.com/i555gWZIi6
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 5, 2018
“In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate,” they continued. “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.”
Brady and Garoppolo’s agent, Don Yee, also made a statement on the story.
“I don’t really know what to say — it’s tough to have a response since it didn’t appear to me to have one on-the-record quote. All I can suggest is don’t believe everything you read,” said Yee, according to reports.
Many others also expressed skepticism:
If you think Tom Brady forced Robert Kraft to force Bill Belichick to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, I’d recommend that you finish shoveling my driveway. There’s gold at the bottom.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) January 5, 2018
Bill Belichick telling Tom Brady he loves him 11 months ago really shows how much they dislike each other.pic.twitter.com/Ha0AIoXYDj
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 5, 2018
Meanwhile, the Patriots are preparing to defend their Super Bowl title. They have a bye this weekend but will begin that defense next weekend against an opponent to be determined.
It’s hard to believe that this controversy will derail the Patriots this season. If the story is indeed true, the internal squabbles have obviously not impacted the Patriots on the field thus far, as they have the best record in the conference and are the favorite to win it all.
What happens after this season is another story. It’s clear Brady’s not going anywhere, because he’s having an MVP year and New England now has no one else behind him. Brady, Belichick and Kraft all say they look forward to working together in the future. Only time will tell how that plays out.
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