BOSTON (CBS) — The soap opera that is Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s thorny relationship continues.

A new book titled “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time” by ESPN’s Ian O’Connor says the relationship between the Patriots quarterback and coach is as cold as ever, and nearly came to an end after last season. Sources close to the two told O’Connor, who interviewed 350 people over the last three years for the book, that Brady would have left the Patriots over the offseason. But that was not an option, as Brady did not want to ruin his reputation among New England fans.

“If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source with knowledge of the Brady-Belichick relationship told O’Connor following the 2017 season. “Tom knows Bill is the best coach in the league, but he’s had enough of him. If Tom could, I think he would divorce him.”

Brady wasn’t sure if he would be back as late as March, but felt obligated to return after last season’s trade of backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

“But in the end, even if he wanted to, Brady could not walk away from the game, and he could not ask for a trade,” O’Connor wrote. “The moment Belichick moved Garoppolo to San Francisco, and banked on Brady’s oft-stated desire to play at least into his mid-forties, was the moment Brady was virtually locked into suiting up next season and beyond. Had he retired or requested a trade, he would have risked turning an adoring New England public into an angry mob.”

As many have pontificated over the last year, the relationship between the two started to sour when the Patriots drafted Garoppolo in 2014. It was then that Belichick mentioned Brady’s age and contract situation, adding that he’d prefer to be “early rather than late at that position,” a comment that irked the quarterback. Brady and his family were also “very miffed” at Belichick after he told reporters to question Brady about his preferences for game balls during the DeflateGate saga.

It also doesn’t sound like Belichick and his staff are as high on Brady as 99.9 percent of New England. A Patriots assistant told O’Connor that while they don’t feel Belichick’s system could turn any quarterback into a Super Bowl champ, they’re confident they could make a decent quarterback great.

“But if you gave us any of the top 15, we could do it,” the assistant told O’Connor. “I don’t think the coaches view Tom as special as everyone else in football does. Mr. Kraft thinks Tom is the greatest gift ever, but the coaches don’t.”

The book paints an ominous picture of the two key cogs to New England’s success over the last two decades, and certainly makes it seem like the duo is hurdling toward a breakup.

Belichick himself did not talk with O’Connor for the book, which is set to be released on Sept. 25.

 

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