Given the fact that Bill Belichick runs his football team like a covert government agency, we will probably never know the true reason he and Tom Brady decided it was time for their fruitful partnership to come to an end. That won't stop us from speculating, though!
On Monday, Terry Bradshaw was interviewed by The Athletic on what it's like to realize the end of your career is nigh. It's a fascinating interview, and Bradshaw didn't hold back in his bewilderment when asked why he thinks Brady would leave the Patriots to go to Tampa Bay:
“Why in the world does he want to keep on playing at 43 other than to prove to New England he’s more important than Bill Belichick?” Bradshaw said. “That’s the way I would look at it. Why the hell do you want to go to Tampa? The only thing I can think of is ego gets involved and you decide, ‘I’ll show ’em who’s more important.’ I would never have done that, and I was shocked he was leaving. Shocked. I’ve never known a great quarterback — a great quarterback — at the end of his career, go to another team and do anything. Now, Brady’s different — nine Super Bowls, six victories. He’s a different cat. But the offense they ran in New England was perfect for him.”- Terry Bradshaw
Bradshaw probably isn't far off the mark here. Given that the financial difference between his Tampa contract and a potential New England contract probably doesn't make a difference in the grand scheme of things for a man married to the most successful supermodel in the world. Other factors had to come into play here. The Patriots are certainly lacking high-end skill position players, but it takes more than a less-than-ideal roster to inspire a man of Brady's stature to leave the only home he's ever known and move to Florida.
Would anyone be surprised if ego was the main factor at play? I certainly wouldn't. An inflated sense of confidence and a strong belief that he is the best at what he does is required to reach the heights Brady aims for. It isn't hard to envision a scenario where Brady felt disrespected because Belichick refused to roll out the red carpet for him and decided to stick it to his old coach by trying to win a ring somewhere else.
It's disappointing for Patriots fans to hear that the greatest pairing in sports history divorced as a matter of pride, but that does seem like the most likely backstory behind the decision. Bradshaw certainly thinks so.