As the NFL's most successful head coach-quarterback duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady prepare to face off for the first time, there is plenty of talk of who needs whom more. Who is to be given more credit for their success together?
What no one can deny, Belichick and Brady included, is that they were best together.
The famously ill-tempered and legendary head coach even acknowledged that he could not have won his six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots without Tom Brady.
During his media availability ahead of Sunday's clash, Belichick was asked if he would have had the same success with another quarterback. The head coach said:
"Of course not. I think I've been on the record dozens of times saying there's no quarterback I would rather have than Tom Brady, and I still feel that way. I was very lucky to have Tom as the quarterback, to coach him."
Belichick went on to publicly praise Brady, saying:
"He was as good as any coach could ever ask for."
Asante Samuel on Belichick's system
Yet Belichick let Brady away because that is how his system operates. It's a system that led to players like Rob Gronkowski retiring early (before returning to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and left Brady unhappy due to a lack of consideration for his input in how Belichick ran the team.
The Patriots, and especially Belichick, allowed a 42-year-old quarterback to leave in free agency. Brady signed with the Buccaneers in the 2020 offseason and promptly won a Super Bowl last season.
Belichick's public praise of Brady caught the attention of a former Patriots star. Retired defensive back Asante Samuel tweeted:
"The thing about life is if your words don't match your actions you're just blowing [smoke]."
While Belichick has made it known that Brady only left because the Buccaneers were more equipped to win than the Patriots were, Samuel is implying that it was the head coach's inability to hear what his quarterback had to say that contributed to him leaving the only team he had ever played for.
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On Sunday, when the now 44-year-old and seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback returns to Gillette Stadium for the first time as an opposition player, Patriots fans will likely greet Brady warmly and wonder what could have been had he never left New England.
Q. Was Bill Belichick the primary reason why Tom Brady left the Patriots?