New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined hosts Kirk Minihane and Gerry Callahan of the Kirk & Callahan show on Boston-based radio station WEEI on Tuesday morning to discuss more than just the Tennessee Titans.
Yeah…remember the Titans??? (ok…an “eye-roll” can be expected on this one).
Well, they just happen to be the team that is coming to Foxboro for a Divisional Round Showdown with the Patriots. They deserve the Patriots undivided attention.
However, recent sideshow-like developments have recently made that a bit more difficult.
While it’s obvious that Brady would have loved to keep the focus on Tennessee, it became necessary for him to address the recent ESPN story, authored by reporter Seth Wickersham. The story is based on a power struggle within the Patriots organization between him, Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick.
On Tuesday, Brady did so with a bit more candor than usual.
The Patriots quarterback acknowledged that he has not read the entire story. However, (like Belichick was on Monday), he was briefed on certain aspects that allowed him to establish a good understanding of the piece’s central message.
Always careful in his choice of words, Brady stopped short of attacking the character of the author, or his sources. Even if the same has been done to him, it’s not in Brady’s character to retaliate, as such. It’s a lesson which he has learned only too well over the years.
However, Brady’s evaluation clearly shows that he disputes many of these claims:
“Well, I think there’s a lot of things that are said,” Brady said. “I think you can go about your life, certainly here with this team, and try and do what I have always done for a long time and that’s to be a good teammate, work as hard as I can to help the team win, and then somebody can write something to contradict that and it’s up to everybody to believe what they want to believe. I don’t put too much thought into it, really. I’d like to think I have a great relationship with my teammates, and if others don’t feel like they have a great relationship with me, that is one thing, but I try and do what I have always done, and be the best teammate I can be. I don’t think that has ever really changed in my mind.”
In his own words, Brady addressed the following claims made by several anonymous sources in Wickersham’s report.
Not Patriot Player of the Week?? No Reason to Fret
Brady confirmed (as did other Patriots players on Monday) that the Patriot Player of the Week award does, indeed, exist. However, he has never expressed being upset over not winning it.
“No…I think things like that…I can’t imagine me ever saying that, or me talking about that,” he said. “It’s hard to even answer that question.”
Brady added: “I have won it plenty of times. Again, it’s hard to even answer that question. There’s really no basis for it. It’s hard to — I don’t know. I just shake my head.”
Cancel the locksmith…Garoppolo was not locked out of TB12
The ESPN story reported that current San Francisco 49ers (and then Patriots back-up) quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had visited the TB12 Sports Therapy Center at Patriots Place in Foxboro to get treatment on his shoulder last year. However, when he arrived, the door was locked and no one would answer the phone. It wasn’t until two weeks later that a member of the Patriots called TB12 to ensure that Garoppolo was treated. The story alleged that this was at the behest of Brady.
Brady disputed this claim.
“Again, it’s hard to even answer those questions,” he said. “It is so far from any truth that I know, or any characterization of my relationship with my teammates. I have never denied anybody anything in regards to TB12. 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.”
Happy Trails, Jimmy??? Not according to Tom…
While the ESPN report indicated that Brady felt “liberated” by Garoppolo’s trade to the 49ers, Brady was uncharacteristically candid in speaking about his relationship with his former teammate.
“I think 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 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.”
He concluded comment on this subject by saying:
“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.”
On TB12 and Alex Guerrero…
Brady’s personal trainer and TB12 business partner, Alex Guerrero was mentioned in the ESPN story, as well. Until recently, Guerrero was a fixture on the Patriots sidelines and the locker room. However, that type of access is no longer in effect for Guerrero. Instead, he is only able to treat Brady at Gillette Stadium If any other player would like to seek treatment at TB12, they must do so at the facility, and on their own time. This has been an alleged source of tension between Brady and Belichick. In addition to the ESPN piece, several local media outlets have reported this point, as well.
However, Brady advised that he has not, nor would he, contradict the team’s treatment advice to sell TB12 methods. Per Wickersham’s sources, Brady would tell teammates, “Bill’s answer to everything is to lift more weights,” This would seemingly be an attempt to undermine the advice of Belichick and the Patriots Training staff, in favor of Guerrero’s methods.
According to Brady, that is simply untrue.
“Again, I am not a divisive person,” he said. “I don’t speak about things like that, and again, I think we’ve talked for a long time about how I feel about training and my preparation. Again, people come up to me whether it is my teammates, or other guys and say, ‘Hey, what are the things that you do? What are the things that have worked for you?’ I can just convey that certain message. Whether that is how I train, or how I eat, or sleep, or drink, all those things. I just try and give them the answer that works for me. It certainly doesn’t have to work for everybody. Every player, it is up to them to either listen to what I am saying and either use it or not use it. It’s their career. It’s not that I couldn’t care less. I want everyone to experience the things I have experienced as I have gotten older. That is just what I try and convey.”
Brady and Belichick…It’s about respect.
Above all on Tuesday, Brady seemed determined to let the public know that his respect for his head coach is as strong as ever. Echoing Belichick’s statements from Monday, Brady appreciates the time he’s spent working with his coach over the last 18 years and couldn’t imagine it any other way.
“Again, I have spoken about this so many times and even this last weekend I did a show (referring to Brady’s Westwood One show with Jim Gray), 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 that you guys know me pretty well. I have spoken to you almost every week for a long time. You can probably disseminate a lot of information yourself without me even saying it.”
Any Lingering Effects??
While it’s clear that Brady was not happy with the manner in which he was portrayed in Wickersham’s article, he remained respectful of the job reporters and journalists have to do…even if he does not always agree with it.
“I think that is a big part of what goes on in some of these articles. That is why I never take anything too seriously anymore,” Brady said. “I think I have been apart of a lot of articles over the years that I disagree with. People can write whatever they want to write. This is a free country. You can say what you want to say. I am evaluated on my job, I am sure other people are evaluated on their jobs. I think it is just being in my position and I understand there’s 31 other cities where people aren’t Patriots fans or Tom Brady fans. Here there’s a lot competition within our media. I have been apart of that for a long time, too.
“I think you just have to take the good with the bad. It’s probably harder on the people who care about me because they are the ones that write me. They read it, probably like a lot of other people, you read it and when we grew up, what you read in the paper was the truth. I think now you just have to take everything — it’s just a little bit different now.”
Final Analysis: Focus is on the Titans
In an attempt to put the ‘noise’ in the rearview mirror, Brady concluded the interview by reminding everyone that there is a job to be done on Saturday. The accompanying scenery might be nice for fans, columnists, and talk-show hosts, alike. However, the Patriots players and coaches know that they have a more than worthy opponent visiting Foxboro this weekend.
As always, no one knows that better than the man under center.
“We’ve had a great season. Were sitting at 13-3 and we are trying to go out and play the biggest game of the year. Our focus should be on that. That’s where is needs to be. Other people may try to take that focus away. I understand that. That’s part of professional sports…But, our task is to understand where we are at and where our energy needs to be. We’re trying to go out there to beat a very good football team (Titans). That’s what the goal for this week should be.”
As previously stated, The Patriots take on the Titans on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
They will be ready. That becomes more obvious with each passing day.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and the AFC East. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC