Tom Brady's decision to leave the New England Patriots after a 20-year run as their starting quarterback was unprecedented for any number of reasons. If we're lucky, we'll eventually get to know all the details that went into the split between the greatest quarterback and the greatest coach of all time behind the scenes. I would not be optimistic about that, given it seems more likely Bill Belichick would give his playbook to next week's opponent than speak to any reporter about his relationship with Brady.
But, less than six months after Brady departed for more pewter-tinged pastures, we're already getting some insight. Jeff Benedict's book The Dynasty, a documentation of how the Patriots' 21st-century dynasty came to be and how it fell apart, is set to release later this week. NBC Sports Boston got an early look at Benedict's work and came to find that Brady was actually very close to leaving after the 2017 Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Benedict writes that the relationship between Belichick and Brady began to fracture significantly that season. Brady wanted owner Robert Kraft to honor an unwritten agreement they made nearly a decade ago that, when he wanted to, Brady would leave New England on his own terms. Kraft did not want Brady to go, though, and so he arranged meetings with Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen to talk things over that offseason. In that meeting, Gisele apparently got rather worked up about the fact that Brady was still getting treated like just another guy by Belichick after his years of elite play. Per Tom Curran:
"She also pointed out how ridiculous it was that after all these years, Belichick still treated Brady like “f****** Johnny Foxboro.” It was bad enough to never voice approval. It was bullsh*t to still be dressing down the most accomplished quarterback in league history during team meetings and treating his personal trainer and best friend like some kind of outcast."
F'in Johnny Foxboro. That's an all-time line right there.
The other interesting tidbit from the book revealed in these excerpts is that Brady has been paranoid Belichick would replace him since 2010! No wonder he logged three Super Bowl titles and an MVP in the years since. He really was nervous that Belichick was just looking for an excuse to get rid of him and clearly vowed his play would never be the issue. But that's a long time to always be looking over his shoulder.