The fallout from last week’s ESPN story by Seth Wickersham alleging that the New England Patriots are dealing with a power struggle between owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and franchise quarterback Tom Brady continues.
After the three released a joint statement on Friday morning, Kraft denied several key points of the story to The MMQB’s Peter King, and Belichick said on Monday that he has a great relationship with Kraft and Brady.
On Tuesday morning, it was Brady’s turn.
During his weekly in-season appearance on Boston sports radio station WEEI, Brady pretty strongly refuted the notion, as Wickersham wrote, that he pushed for the Patriots to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, his backup quarterback, and that he felt “liberated” after New England sent Garoppolo to San Francisco at the trade deadline in exchange for a second-round pick.
“I think that is such a poor characterization,” Brady said of the idea that he was happy to see Garoppolo go. “In 18 years I have never celebrated when someone has been traded, been cut. I would say that is disappointing to hear that someone would express that, or a writer would express that because it is so far from what my beliefs are about my teammates and I think I am very empathetic about other people’s experiences. I know those situations aren’t easy.
“I have never been traded or released, but I can imagine how that might feel. I would never feel that way when Jimmy got traded, or Jacoby [Brissett] got traded. I have kept in touch with all those guys. When Matt Cassel was gone — all these guys I’ve worked with. I feel like I have had such great relationships with all the quarterbacks I have worked with. I have kept him touch with basically everybody. To characterize that as a certain way is just completely wrong.”
Garoppolo, a second-round pick in 2014, was in the final year of his rookie contract, and the Patriots were facing the possibility of paying to keep Garoppolo while Brady is still playing at a high level despite his NFL-advanced age (he’ll turn 41 later this year).
The Patriots drafted Brissett in the third round in 2016 but traded him to the Indianapolis Colts last September when the Colts were desperate for a serviceable player at the position due to Andrew Luck’s injury.
“I think coach always says speak for yourselves and I have always tried to go by that. Like I said, I have a great relationship with all my teammates. I certainly did with Jimmy. I loved working with Jimmy. We had a great time together. I wish him nothing but the best, like always. Just like all my teammates, really. I think that is just how I feel about him,” Brady said of Garoppolo.
For what it’s worth, Brady, Garoppolo and Brissett called themselves “The Wolfpack,” and posted photos of themselves together on Instagram, whether celebrating last year’s Super Bowl or at the team’s ring ceremony in the spring, or at the Kentucky Derby – Brady annually hosts a weekend with current and former teammates he counts as close friends, and both were invited last year.
Brady also addressed his relationship with Belichick.
“Again, I have spoken about this so many times … Coach Belichick has been such a great coach and mentor and I certainly could never accomplish anything in this sport without everything that he has taught me,” Brady said. “I have been so lucky to play for this team. There’s been so many great coaches here, players, staff members, Mr. Kraft and Jonathan [Kraft]. I have had such great support here. I think again, to characterize it any differently than how I say it, and again, I could say it a million times and then someone could write one thing. It is really up to whoever is listening that wants to believe it and maybe they want to believe it because that’s what they want to believe. They want to believe things are maybe different, or maybe they want to believe — I don’t know.
“I can only say and speak for myself and act how I have always acted. I think you guys know me pretty well. I have spoken to you guys every week for a long time. I think you guys can probably disseminate a lot of information yourself without me even saying it.”
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