By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — With the Buccaneers’ much-hyped Week 4 visit to play the Patriots in Foxboro drawing closer, Tom Brady isn’t saying anything inflammatory. The people in Brady’s inner circle? That’s a different story.

In recent days, Brady’s personal trainer/business partner, Brady’s father, and Brady’s personal interviewer (yes, he’s got one of those) have all made comments about the quarterback’s time in New England. Specifically, they all touched on the fractured relationship with Bill Belichick and how that led to the end of Brady’s tenure with the Patriots.

Most recently it was Alex Guerrero. The godfather to one of Brady’s children, Guerrero is very much Brady’s right-hand man. So it was rather significant when he spoke to the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian and criticized Belichick for mishandling his relationship with Brady.

“The interesting thing I think there — and this is just me, an outsider looking in — it was like Bill never really … I think his emotions or feelings never evolved with age,” Guerrero told the Herald. “I think in time, with Tom, as Tom got into his late 30s or early 40s, I think Bill was still trying to treat him like that 20-year-old kid that he drafted. And all the players, I think, realized Tom was different. He’s older, so he should be treated differently. And all the players, none of them would have cared that he was treated differently. I think that was such a Bill thing. He never evolved. So you can’t treat someone who’s in his 40s like they’re 20. It doesn’t work.”

Guerrero also credited the Bucs for allowing Guerrero to treat any Bucs players who wanted to see him, an issue which became a point of contention between Belichick and Guerrero in 2017. That issue was illustrated in Brady’s docuseries “Tom Vs. Time,” which showed the duo clumsily moving furniture around in Brady’s family suite at Gillette Stadium in order to undergo the process for a pregame massage.

And according to Guregian, Guerrero did “confirm Brady no longer felt wanted in New England, and the front office wasn’t giving him enough reason to stay.”

The tight-lipped Brady would almost never speak so freely about such matters. Guerrero, however, apparently had the green light to let it flow.

Another person in Brady’s inner circle always seems to have the go-ahead to shoot from the hip, and that’s Brady’s father. Earlier this week, Tom Brady Sr. answered honestly when asked if he and his son feel a level of vindication for the way the QB has thrived and won after Belichick no longer wanted No. 12 in Foxboro.

“Damn right. Damn rights. [Bill] Belichick wanted him out the door, and last year he threw [50] touchdowns. I think that’s a pretty good year,” Brady Sr. told NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran.

The face that Brady’s father made while making those comments almost speaks louder than the words themselves.

The closest Brady came to speaking about Belichick came during his weekly podcast. Brady played that one straight, though.

On his podcast, Brady was asked to react to Belichick’s short comment from WEEI, when the Patriots’ head coach said of Brady possibly playing to age 50, “if anybody could do it, it’s probably him.”

Brady’s reaction?

“Yeah, I’ve always appreciated the encouraging words of Coach Belichick,” Brady said flatly. “And it served me pretty well.”

These interviews — which formerly took place as part of the halftime show of the Monday Night Football radio broadcast — have always been fairly coordinated. Not quite scripted, but certainly very little that is unplanned makes the final product.

So it was once again notable that host Jim Gray laughed at Brady’s answer and said with some sarcasm, “It’s funny you can hear encouragement in that. That takes a certain tone, but you’ve been very used to that.”

The conversation then moved on to the next topic.

While having three of his closest confidantes speak publicly about Belichick in a less-than-celebratory fashion is hard to downplay as coincidental, Brady did his best to separate himself from the words of his family and friends when asked about their comments on Thursday.

“Yeah I have great respect and admiration for my time there. I had 20 great years there. I’ve kind of spoken that the last 18 months. It was a great time in my life. But I’m really happy to be here,” Brady said during his weekly Buccaneers press conference. “Everyone has protective feelings and emotions as friends and family members, and that’s just part of being in sports, and you have a lot of people who … you know, because they’re not out there, they want to protect. And it’s a very caring, loving thing that a lot of people do. But from my standpoint, I just, I had a great time.”

On the one hand, Brady can’t control what other people say. On the other, he could ask Guerrero to refrain from publicly delving into the dynamic that played out between the quarterback and head coach in New England. And he could ask his father to hold off on spiking the football. And he could have asked the sarcastic laugh from Jim Gray to be cut out of the podcast, if he so desired.

The fact that he hasn’t asked his inner circle to stay quiet in advance of the most-anticipated regular-season game in NFL history? It at least shows that Warm Weather Tom doesn’t hate that side of the story being put into the public eye.

And it shows that when it comes to fueling the fire for all of the hype and buildup for next Sunday night’s football game, Brady doesn’t mind that a few barrels of gasoline have now been dumped into the already-raging inferno.

Gear up, everybody. Next week looks like it could be a long one.