The Patriots rarely address controversy in public unless they deem it to be an absolute must.
No doubt, the ESPN.com story titled “The Beginning of the End?” that dropped last Friday touched a nerve with the Patriots’ inner-circle.
The Patriots released a relatively weak press release on the day the story was published, and in the next 48 hours Robert Kraft and Tom Brady both addressed the story. Of course, Bill Belichick didn’t rush to get his word out … and it’s highly unlikely that he’ll ever go too deep into the matter.
Kraft told The MMQB’s Peter King that the ESPN report was “a total fabrication and fiction” and the Pats owner made it clear that he had learned from his mistakes with former Pats head coach Bill Parcells over 20 years ago in that he allows Belichick to have complete control when it comes to football matters.
“Until Monday at the trade deadline – I believe that was Oct. 30 – the last time I talked to Bill about Jimmy [Garoppolo’s situation] was in a group with Bill, Jonathan [Kraft], Nick Caserio … a small group of us, I think in June,” Kraft said. “That is the last time I talked to Bill about it. I would see Nick occasionally and say, ‘Anything going on?’
“I assumed once the season started we’d talk again at the end of the season about it,” Kraft continued. “The next time I spoke to Bill 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 … 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 Jonathan, who was OK with it, and I called Bill back and said, ‘OK.’”
Brady was on Westwood One radio Saturday and spoke glowingly about Belichick.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Belichick,” Brady said. “We’ve worked together for 18 years. There is no coach I would rather play for. I have loved my experience here. I certainly couldn’t be the player I am today without playing for such a great coach. I see these as all positive things … That obviously doesn’t sell many newspapers, but to me I have such gratitude towards my time here and I have loved my experience.”
A Giant rumor
Metro first raised the prospect of Belichick jumping to the Giants after this season three weeks ago, highlighting Belichick’s admiration for the Giants organization and his strong relationship with Giants owner John Mara. The New York Daily News reported last Friday night that Belichick “sees an opening to get to the Giants.”
Giants brass was in Foxborough this past weekend interviewing Pats coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia. It’s unknown whether or not they talked to Belichick directly. Albert Breer of The MMQB reported last month that Mara would consult with Belichick about the Giants’ head coach position. At the same time, tampering rules would prevent the Giants from gauging Belichick’s own interesting in jumping to New Jersey.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter shot down the Belichick to the Giants rumors this past weekend, but it should be noted that Schefter also said countless times in the past year that Garoppolo would not be traded by the Pats.
“First of all, if we are going to talk about Bill Belichick to the New York Giants, he has time left on his contract,” Schefter said. “You think Robert Kraft is just going to let him out? And you think if Bill Belichick wants to quit, they are just going to let him go to the Giants? And do you think Bill Belichick at his age right now wants to go take over a start-over, rebuilding job? And do you think he wants to take over a situation where there is not a quarterback? I am sure the 49ers before they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo wanted Aaron Rodgers to come back home, or Tom Brady to come back home. I am sure there are many situations like that … [But] Giants fans can dream. They can dream.”
If Giants fans’ dreams were to come true, New York would have to relinquish a whole hell of a lot to land the greatest football coach in history. Consider that in 2002, the Raiders traded their coach – Jon Gruden – to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for two first round picks, two second round picks and $8 million. To obtain Belichick, one would think the Giants would have to give up double that to the Patriots.
Fuel for the playoffs
The Patriots thrive on distractions like this. In 2007 after the Spygate news broke, they rattled off 16 straight wins. In 2015 after the Deflategate news broke, they won two Super Bowls in the span of two calendar years. No doubt, Belichick will use this as fuel for the postseason. He will tell his team that the public thinks their empire is crumbling.
This all could very well be something small (Belichick nixing Alex Guerrero’s sideline access) that Belichick did not mind seeing blowing up into something large.
In a roundabout way, this story about the impending death of the Patriots’ dynasty could very well extend their dynasty, ultimately.
No team in the history of sport uses controversy as fuel better than Belichick and the Patriots.