On Friday morning, ESPN released an explosive report detailing an alleged rift that exists between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft. According to ESPN reporter Seth Wickersham, there’s a lot of tension that exists within the Patriots’ facility right now, and that tension could result in Belichick leaving the organization at the conclusion of the current season.
Shortly after the report was released, Patriots fans voiced their displeasure with it by blasting ESPN on social media. Brady, Belichick, and Kraft also teamed up to issue a joint statement to let everyone know that things are just fine within the New England franchise.
But of course, there are many NFL fans who aren’t buying it. One of the key pieces of evidence within Wickersham’s story that seems to suggest that there is trouble in paradise for the reigning Super Bowl champs is a portion of the story revolving around now-former Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo was expected to be the heir apparent to Brady. Once Brady retired, Garoppolo was going to take over as the quarterback for the team for the foreseeable future and, with any luck, pick up right where Brady left off.
But in the report, Wickersham wrote about how Brady didn’t do much to help Garoppolo along as he progressed as an NFL quarterback over the last few years. He also wrote about how Kraft reportedly forced Belichick to trade Garoppolo this past fall since he believes Brady still has a lot of life left in his NFL career. And maybe most shockingly, Wickersham wrote about how Brady’s personal trainer once stood Garoppolo up after agreeing to treat an injury he suffered to his shoulder in 2016. It seemed to show Brady wasn’t on board with Garoppolo being his eventual successor.
Brady appeared on WEEI in Boston on Tuesday morning just like he does every week, and of course, he was asked about the ESPN report. He said that everything Wickersham reported was "baseless." He also said he doesn’t "put too much thought" into what others write about him. And he categorically denied the stuff Wickersham wrote about him and Garoppolo.
"It is so far from any truth that I know or any characterization of my relationship with my teammates," Brady said. "I have never denied anybody anything in regards to TB12 [the facility run by his trainer]. I have always found it very flattering when teammates go there. Again, I think this speaks to someone, whether it is the writer himself or whoever he spoke to, what agenda they might have in painting some type of picture…I have a great relationship with all my teammates. I certainly did with Jimmy. I loved working with Jimmy. We have a great time together. I wish him nothing but the best, like always."
Brady also denied that he felt "liberated" when Garoppolo was dealt to the 49ers, which is another claim that was made in Wickersham’s report.
"That is such a poor characterization," Brady said. "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 these situations aren’t easy."
Brady continued: "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."
If you believed everything you read in the ESPN report initially, Brady’s words are unlikely to move you. But Brady usually doesn’t talk this much about any one particular topic, so it’s clear that the ESPN report must have struck a nerve, especially with regards to the stuff that was reported about his relationship with Garoppolo. If you want to listen to Brady’s entire WEEI appearance, you can check it out here.