What led to the decline of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick's relationship? 

Patriots legends Tom Brady and Bill Belichick
Patriots legends Tom Brady and Bill Belichick

The relationship between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick fell downhill towards the end of Brady's time with the New England Patriots. Brady had expressed an interest in playing for the Patriots until he was 45. It never came to fruition when Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.

In the buildup to their Sunday Night Football matchup, ESPN senior writer Seth Wickersham revealed excerpts from his new book. His book is titled "It's Better To Be Feared" and goes in-depth on Brady, Belichick, and Robert Craft's relationship. He talks about Belichick's treatment of Brady and much more.

Multiple factors led to the decline of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick's relationship

Belichick has always been a no-nonsense coach. His serious demeanor and devotion to "The Patriot Way" are some of his claims to fame. Brady had been in the Patriots system for 17 seasons before telling people around him he didn't want to play for the Patriots anymore. Belichick's ideology of "being feared" never changed, despite Brady's success.

"The seamlessness of Brady's proficiency and performance was making his former coach's methodologies look antiquated, even silly," the book says. "It was better to be feared – but was it necessary?"

Wickersham also notes that Brady was fed up with team-friendly contracts. He continually played at a top-five quarterback level and wasn't being compensated for it. In 2017 when Brady won MVP, he was just the 20th highest-paid quarterback in the NFL at $15 million.

Brady also wanted to have more of a say in personnel. The NFL was starting to follow in the NBA's footsteps, where franchise players had more say in moves.

"Brady was tired of taking team-friendly deals with no input into how the money saved was spent – and still wanted a long-term contractual commitment," Wickersham writes. "Belichick told associates that every organizational decision now was in support of Brady, geared toward pleasing him and making him successful – and that Kraft meddled with the team, sometimes with opinions, sometimes with restrictive budgets."

Belichick allegedly didn't say goodbye to Brady in person

The book also mentions that Brady and Belichick said goodbye on the phone. Brady wanted to say goodbye in person, but Belichick wasn't available. Belichick responded in a press conference Wednesday, saying it was "not true" he didn't want to say goodbye in person.

The timing of Brady's departure was at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. So it's understandable if that it had a role in this. Regardless of why it happened over the phone, Brady took offense. That's understandable as well, given the two spent 20 seasons together.

Wickersham's book, "It's Better To Be Feared," comes out October 12. It includes interviews and quotes from the Patriots, spanning the entire Patriots dynasty.

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