Patriots reportedly haven't been this furious since 'Deflategate' after ESPN story
Time for the latest chapter in “As the Patriots Turn,” or as those in the New England locker room might call it, “Us Against the World.”
In the days following ESPN’s bombshell report of dysfunction within the New England organization, we’ve had some new developments.
We’ve now heard from the three principles — owner Bob Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady — and all deny the friction detailed in the Seth Wickersham feature.
First came Friday’s joint statement from the troika:
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
Saturday, Brady appeared on Westwood Radio with Jim Gray, giving his side of things, and praising Kraft and Belichick.
“He is a great person, man. He has been like a second father to me in so many ways,” Brady said. “I have a great relationship with Coach Belichick. We’ve worked together for 18 years. There’s no coach I’d rather play for, and I’ve loved my experience here. I certainly couldn’t be the player I am today without playing for such a great coach. So I see these as all positive things. That obviously doesn’t sell many newspapers, but to me, I have such gratitude toward my time here, and I’ve loved my experience. I continue to love my experience.”
Then came Kraft’s turn.
Speaking to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Kraft owner vehemently denied ESPN’s report that he essentially ordered Belichick to trade Brady’s backup, Jimmy Garrapolo.
King relayed the fury that Kraft spoke to him with.
“I have never heard Robert Kraft more strident about anything — and that includes Spygate and Deflategate — than he was on the phone with me about the accusation that he mandated that Garoppolo be traded in a meeting with Belichick before the October trade deadline,” King wrote. “As I wrote Saturday, Kraft said such an in-season meeting never happened. Garoppolo was dealt to San Francisco for a second-round pick on Oct. 30. Kraft’s voice rose, his ire clear sentence after sentence, as he insisted he did not tell Belichick to make the trade. I have known Kraft since soon after he bought the team in 1994, and the one thing that sets him off is someone questioning his word. That’s why this set him off.”
Kraft then laid out his timeline of how things developed.
“I assumed once the season started, we’d talk again at the end of the season about (Garoppolo),” Kraft told King. “The next time I spoke with Bill (Belichick) about it was the Monday before the trade deadline. He called me on that Monday and said he got a deal with San Francisco, Jimmy for a second-round pick and Brian Hoyer. Turns out they had to cut Hoyer and then we got him. But really, this was basically a second-round pick and Brian Hoyer for Jimmy. Bill asked me if I was OK with this. I was really taken aback a little bit. I wanted to think about it. I talked to (Patriots president Jonathan Kraft), who was OK with it, and I called Bill back and said, ‘OK.’”
For his part, Belichick appeared on WEEI in Boston for his weekly interview. According to the coach, all is well in Foxborough.
Early in his @DaleHolleyWEEI interview, Bill Belichick described his relationship with Robert Kraft and Tom Brady as “great” and then added that he feels he has a good professional relationship with Alex Guerrero.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 8, 2018
“Great, great,” Belichick said of his relationships. “Eighteen years with Tom and 22 with Robert. It’s been great. I appreciate everything that Robert has done for me, the opportunities he’s given me and the support. I’ve been pretty lucky to have Tom as the quarterback for those 18 years, playing for 17. He’s a great player to coach and he’s done a lot for this team. He’s been a huge help for me personally.”
It should be an interesting to see if this controversy motivates the Patriots when the defending champions host Tennessee on Saturday in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
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