By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady — best quarterback ever? Probably.

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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?


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.


Tom Brady hugs Robert Kraft after winning Super Bowl XXXVI. (Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

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:

Robert Kraft embraces Tom Brady after winning to advance to Super Bowl XXXVIII. (Photo by

By the time Brady and the Patriots won their third Super Bowl, Brady and Kraft had the celebration thing down to a science.

Tom Brady and Robert Kraft celebrate after Super Bowl XXXIX. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

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.

Tom Brady embraces Robert Kraft after winning Super Bowl XLIX. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

And last year, after Brady was gifted a Kraft smooch in the pregame …

Robert Kraft smooches Tom Brady prior to Super Bowl LI. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

… he was also given a congratulatory peck on the cheek after winning the whole enchilada.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft shares a smooch with Tom Brady after the Patriots defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

That locker room smooch came after Brady broke down crying while embracing Kraft in the mayhem after the overtime victory.

Tom Brady gets emotional with Robert Kraft after winning Super Bowl LI. (Phoy by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Tom Brady gets emotional with Robert Kraft after winning Super Bowl LI. (Phoy by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

Tom Brady hugs Robert Kraft after beating the Colts in the 2014 AFC Championship Game. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady hugs Robert Kraft after beating the Colts in the 2014 AFC Championship Game. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

(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.

Tom Brady hugs Robert Kraft after defeating the Ravens in the 2011 AFC Championship Game.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Out in London, Kraft was happy to facilitate a meeting with world-famous rock star Jon Bon Jovi.

Jon Bon Jovi meets Tom Brady as Robert Kraft looks on in London. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)

At the huge Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout, Brady took the time to hug the most stylish man in the crowd.

Tom Brady hugs Robert Kraft at “Mayweather VS Pacquiao.” (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for SHOWTIME)

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.

Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Robert Kraft, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman attend the Gisele Bundchen Spring Fling book launch in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Goat Communications)

And here are two more photos from sideline embraces:

Tom Brady hugs Robert Kraft prior to a preseason game in 2011. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Robert Kraft smooches Tom Brady prior to a game against the Texans in 2017. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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:

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Bill Belichick and Tom Brady during Super Bowl LI Opening Night. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Hmm. Hmmmmm.

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.

Bill Belichick, Tom Brady in 2011 (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Total courtesy smile.

Speaking of a workplace relationship, does this look like a man who has great respect for his boss???

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick in, 2015 (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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.

Bill Belichick, Tom Brady in 2015 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

“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.”

Bill Belichick, Tom Brady at Fenway Park in 2015. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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.

Robert Kraft, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, James White and Dion Lewis at Fenway Park. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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.”

Bill Belichick watches as Tom Brady hits a tee shot at Pebble Beach in 2014. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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?”

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick in 2010 (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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.

Bill Belichick celebrates after Super Bowl LI with Tom Brady and LeGarrette Blount. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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.

Bill Belichick celebrates winning the 2007 AFC title game with Tom Brady and Laurence Maroney (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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.

Bill Belichick talks with Tom Brady after Super Bowl LI. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Do you know who could fit in that gap?

You’re right, exactly ONE Robert Kraft:

(Original photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

That same distance was there after beating the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX:

Bill Belichick, Tom Brady after Super Bowl XXXIX. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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.

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You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.