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Analysis: ESPN’s Piece On Brady, Kraft, And Belichick Feud

Early Thursday night rumors started to fly around about a “bombshell” article that was going to be released on ESPN about power struggles inside the New England Patriots. The story would focus on an ongoing feud between Brady, Kraft, and Belichick and would range over topics such as the Jimmy Garroppolo trade and the Alex Guerrero Situation.

The Story was supposed to be posted at 8 AM Friday Morning, but instead would be posted at 1:00 AM and shared and read by millions in just hours.

The story and investigation was conducted by ESPN’s Senior Writer Seth Wickersham. The almost five-thousand-word story goes over different points of tension throughout the past couple of years and goes into depth about the Jimmy Garroppolo trade and the Alex Guerrero Situation.

It’s obvious, there is most definitely tension in the Patriots organization. Anyone who works with the same people day and day out none the less 18 years will have problems with others. But none the less, let’s hop into it.

GUERRERO:

Alex Guerrero has brought his fair share of drama to this Patriots season and it seems like he is starting to turn into that friend your parents don’t want you to be friends with. Brady’s business partner and trainer who has a troubled past helped Brady form the TB12 method.

Wickersham says that some Patriots found the TB12 method fine well other looked at it like a “cult”.

Wickersham writes “The [TB12] method also was so consuming and unwavering in its rules and convictions that, while it helped some players, it felt “like a cult” to others, one Patriot staffer says. The way TB12 began to creep into Brady’s life worried people close to Brady, many of whom were suspicious of Guerrero. “Tom changed,” says a friend of Brady. “That’s where a lot of these problems started.”

Wickersham also talks about how multiple sources reported to him that “players openly discussed with Patriots coaches, staff and trusted advisers whether to follow Brady or the team”. This would leave players trapped between who they should stay loyal to Bill Belichick and team doctors or Tom Brady and Alex Guerrero.

The timeline of Alex Guerrero is also explained Wille McGinest introduced the two back in 2004. By 2013 Guerrero would have “full access” to the Patriots facility Wickersham even reports that Guerrero had “access to meetings in which medical records for Patriots players were discussed”.

During that 2013 season, the tension between the Patriots training staff and  Guerrero would grow as he would blame them for different injuries the team sustained. In 2014 Guerrero’s access would be slightly revoked and he was unable to attend the meeting and look at player health records. Of course, as most know by mid-season 2017 Guerrero would be recovered total access to the team, but can still treat players outside of the stadium.

GARROPPOLO:

Let’s move onto the Garroppolo side of the article, we found out a lot about the Jimmy Garroppolo trade and that there could have been some possible pressure put down from Kraft to Belichick about how Tom Brady is to remain the starting Quarter Back.

But here is where things get weird. Wickersham wrote about how during Garroppolo’s 2016 shoulder injury he went to go to TB12 to get his shoulder worked on, only to find nobody was there was nobody there for his appointment and the Patriots Place Location to be closed. Garroppolo eventually gets his treatment at TB12 two weeks later, but that would only happen after a “high-ranking Patriots staffer” called to question the holdup. Guerrero denies the whole story.

Fast forward to two weeks before the 2017 NFL trade deadline. Wickersham reports that there was a  long half-day meeting between Belichick and Kraft about the future of the quarterback position. This is after the Patriots offered  Garroppolo a reported four-year contract extension worth between $17-$18 million a year that he turned down.

Wickersham writes “The meeting ended with a clear mandate to Belichick: trade Garoppolo because he would not be in the team’s long-term plans, and then, once again, find the best quarterback in the draft and develop him. Belichick was furious and demoralized, according to friends. But in the end, he did what he asks of his players and coaches: He did his job”.

Days later Garroppolo would be traded to the San Franciso 49ers for just a second-round draft pick. A Patriots Staffer told Wickersham “he [Brady] won” and that ownership was on his side.

Wickersham writes about the days following the trade saying “Brady, though, seemed liberated. Kraft hugged Brady when he saw him that week, in full view of teammates. A few days later during practice, some players and staffers noticed that Brady seemed especially excited, hollering and cajoling. Brady was once again the team’s present and future. His new backup, Brian Hoyer, was a longtime friend and not a threat.”

OTHER NOTABLE TOPICS COVERED:

I would highly recommend reading the full Wickersham article as he goes into even more detail about the topics covered above. But that was not all he would uncover.

We found out that Brady is reportedly angry with Head Coach Bill Belichick over not getting a game ball this season and that all of Belichick’s negativity during tape review could be getting old to Brady.

Wickersham writes “Brady has told other Patriots players and staff. He feels he has accomplished enough that he shouldn’t have to endure so much grief. Patriots staffers have noticed that this year more than ever, he seems to volley between unwavering confidence and driving insecurity. Brady has noted to staff a few times this year that, no matter how many game-changing throws he makes, Belichick hasn’t awarded him Patriot of the Week all year.”

Another thing we learned in this article should it be true is that Belichick has zero transparency on roster moves even to his own coaching staff. Well talking about the aftermath of the Garoppolo trade Wickersham talks about how Belichick will “bury” his staff in extra work so that they will not question his decisions.

Wickersham Writes “Belichick handled the trade as he always does, by not explaining it to the coaches and by burying them so deep in work that they didn’t have time to gossip. Most in the organization understood that it was an extreme case, with extreme personalities, but they felt that Belichick had earned the right to make football decisions.”

CONCLUSION:

I found this piece to be a glorified hit piece on the New England Patriots, their staff, and their players. Is there tension in the organization? Of course, there is, there is tension in every organization no matter how large or small.

This article would gain a lot more credibility should we know the sources used in it. This will never happen and I fully get it, it’s part of the business you have sources who hear and tell you things and you don’t say who they are. Should the names be released at some time down the road and there are actual “high-level executives” saying this was going on then I will believe it.

But at this point, you have to treat articles like this one like a grain of salt. It might be true but there is also still a possibility it is all false. The article is very well written but in this day in age, you have to question everything.

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