After nearly 20 years of debating who is more responsible for the Patriots dynasty, we may have an answer to the tireless question, is it Brady-Belichick or Belichick-Brady?
The winningest coach-quarterback combination of the Super Bowl Era is no more as Tom Brady has agreed to a multi-year contract worth up to $30 million per year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady did not play much in his rookie year (2000) and had a season-ending injury in the first game of 2008.
So, in 18 Full seasons the legendary combination:
- Won 17 Divisional Titles
- Appeared in 13 Conference Championship Games
- Won nine AFC Titles
- Captured six Lombardi Trophies
During that span, the only other organization in professional sports that has had a similar run was the San Antonio Spurs, also led by a great coach-star player combo in Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan.
That dynamic was very similar to Belichick-Brady in that you had a disciplined, acerbic, cantankerous coach and a model superstar who took the criticism from within by their respective coaches.
If a coach can call out all-time greats like Duncan and Brady, then every other member of their roster is fair game.
There is a critical difference between the two situations that took place in Foxboro and San Antonio. Football head coaches have a bigger influence on the outcome of their games than a basketball coach. Football is literally choreographed while Basketball is still a star-driven game.
Duncan spent 19 years with the Spurs, playing for only one head coach. “The Big Fundamental” never missed the playoffs, winning five Championships in six Finals appearances.
Since Duncan retired in 2016, Popovich and the Spurs have posted 61, 47 and 48 wins.
Currently, San Antonio is 27-36 and headed for its first non-playoff season since 1996-97.
I don’t think since Duncan retired that “POP” forgot how to coach. But not having an all-time great player certainly impacts a team’s performance.
Will the Patriots fall off a cliff without the GOAT behind center? Probably not. But, they will have a real challenge within their own division for the first time since 2008.
Will Tampa Bay, which has not qualified for the playoffs since 2007, be the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium? Not likely. Although, betting against Tom Brady is usually a losing proposition.
While Patriots fans cry and Bucs fans rejoice, I root for the interesting story. Now that the Brady-Belichick divorce is official we can enjoy an actual juicy sports debate that is normally left to our imagination.
More likely Brady-Belichick will be the football version of Lennon-McCartney. While the driving forces behind the Beatles had excellent solo careers they were never as great without each other. In their case, as well as Brady- Belichick, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.
Now that their Long And Winding Road has come to an end, my suggestion to Patriots fans is to Let It Be.
John Sapochetti Is Co-Host
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