By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady — best quarterback ever? Probably.
Bill Belichick — best coach ever? Yeah, pretty much.
Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? WRONG! So wrong.
According to Ryan Burr of The Golf Channel, the relationship between Belichick and Brady is “not great.” According to Burr, Belichick was ready if not eager to send Brady packing after this season and put the franchise into the hands of one Mr. Jimmy Garoppolo.
And, if it weren’t for Robert Kraft’s love and devotion to Brady, then that’s the scenario that would have most likely played out in the upcoming offseason.
It’s quite the story.
On the one hand, Belichick is the ultimate cold-hearted business decision-maker the world has ever seen. It’s not difficult to imagine a scenario where he trades his own son from the coaching staff to the Bears before explaining it by muttering “we just did what’s best for the team.” It’s that ice-cold ability to cut ties with any and everyone on the roster that makes Belichick great.
On the other hand … Tom Brady is currently the best quarterback in the NFL. He set about 700 Super Bowl records nine months ago. He’s as good at chucking pigskins as he’s ever been — which is saying something, considering his bloated resume.
So, as you can imagine, there’s been some resistance to everybody fully believing in the report. I decided to do some investigative journalism … by looking at photographs. They always say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so what better source to determine whether or not the BB-TB relationship is strained?
LET’S GO TO THE FILM!
First … let’s look at how Brady and Kraft’s relationship has developed over time. Here they are embracing after that most improbable win over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. As you can see, the 24-year-old Brady was still learning the ins and outs of what a relationship with Kraft would be like. The comfort level is not totally there just yet.
Fast-forward a couple of years, after the Patriots beat Peyton Manning and the Colts in the 2003 AFC Championship Game, and you can see the hugs were starting to get more natural. I mean, this is a pretty tender touch right here:
By the time Brady and the Patriots won their third Super Bowl, Brady and Kraft had the celebration thing down to a science.
That’s love right there, folks.
We might as well keep it with Super Bowl pictures for now. Ten years later, when Brady finally won another Super Bowl, the celebratory hug was pure and genuine.
And last year, after Brady was gifted a Kraft smooch in the pregame …
… he was also given a congratulatory peck on the cheek after winning the whole enchilada.
That locker room smooch came after Brady broke down crying while embracing Kraft in the mayhem after the overtime victory.
Some other photos from the years show the close relationship pretty clearly. After beating the Colts in the famed DeflateGame game, they hugged so hard that Brady knocked the hat off Kraft’s head.
(Note: Based on photos it’s not clear if Brady knocked the hat off or if someone placed the hat on Kraft’s head mid-hug, all stealth-like. But for the purpose of furthering my agenda, I will say it was a ferocious, hat-losing hug.)
After Billy Cundiff shanked the would-be game-tying field goal in the 2011 conference title game, there was a tender moment on stage.
Out in London, Kraft was happy to facilitate a meeting with world-famous rock star Jon Bon Jovi.
At the huge Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout, Brady took the time to hug the most stylish man in the crowd.
Nobody likes going to events for a coffee table book, but who showed up for Gisele’s book launch? All of Tom’s bros: Danny, Jules, and Bobby.
And here are two more photos from sideline embraces:
Do you get the … PICTURE? (LOL!) Those two guys are very close.
Now, on to Bill Belichick.
Let’s start with “Media Night” prior to Super Bowl LI in Houston:
That’s not all that dissimilar to this photo from 2011, where Belichick is giving that courtesy smile you give in the office as you’re passing Jan from accounting in the hallway.
Total courtesy smile.
Speaking of a workplace relationship, does this look like a man who has great respect for his boss???
Trouble in paradise? Indeed!
Tell me this: If you walked away from your boss like this, would you be expecting your Christmas bonus? You most assuredly would not.
“Sorry, kids, but Santa is packing light this year. Daddy had a problem at work.”
Let’s move on to the “Jealous Looks From Behind” portion of the program.
Here, at Fenway Park, you can actually read Belichick’s lips as he mutters under his breath, “Why can’t I throw a pitch? Only golden boy QBs who were also drafted in the 18th round by the Montreal Expos are allowed to throw out the first pitch? I MADE YOU WHO YOU ARE, TOM. I MADE YOU.”
AN INTERESTING SIDENOTE: When Brady went back to Fenway a couple of years later on Opening Day, do you know who was conspicuously absence? Why, that would be the hooded head coach.
Teeing off here at Pebble Beach, it’s once again easy to read the mind of Belichick: “Would you look at that? Another perfect drive down the middle for Tom Effing Brady.”
While we’re reading lips, you can’t honestly say that Belichick is not grimacing while wondering “When is this hippie going to stop talking to me?”
Now, on to the more celebratory moments of the duo’s long career together. Surely, in the wake of a Super Bowl win, they’d be ecstatic, right?
Well, not entirely.
After the incredible Super Bowl LI overtime win, Belichick didn’t even have 1-on-1 time on the field with Brady. He instead shared the moment with LeGarrette Blount, who had a fumble and like maybe seven total yards in the game.
It’s not the first time that’s happened, either. After winning the most boring AFC Championship Game in history against the Chargers in 2007, Belichick made sure to celebrate not just with Brady but also with Laurence Maroney.
The message there was pretty obvious: “Hey, wonder boy, with your 50 touchdowns. Make sure to thank Laurence here for his 122 rushing yards. He bailed out you and your 66.4 passer rating in this game.”
Here’s another one after Super Bowl LI — which, to be clear was the most ridiculously exciting comeback victory the world has ever seen — where Belcihick and Brady are keeping a respectful distance from each other.
Do you know who could fit in that gap?
You’re right, exactly ONE Robert Kraft:
That same distance was there after beating the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX:
It’s a classic case of “I guess society deems that we have to hug here. Though I’d rather not.”
And it all kind of culminates with this right here, captured after the Patriots beat the Buccaners earlier this season:
I mean, what more evidence do you need, folks?
So there you have it. History has furnished the pictures, and the pictures have furnished the war taking place in Foxboro. Are they far and away the best team in the NFL since 2001? Do they employ a head coach and quarterback who are among the very best at their positions in history? Are they currently in the mix as a true title contender, with a chance to win a third Super Bowl in four years for the second time (wrap your ahead around that one, nerds)?
Yes, yup, and you betcha.
But, unfortunately, if they succeed at all this year it will be despite the sour, poor, rotten relationship between Belichick and Brady. Hey, if it weren’t for Kraft’s affection for the quarterback, it’s possible — NAY, LIKELY! — that Brady would already be slinging passes out West for the moribund 49ers. Photographs never lie.