Not even Howard Stern could get Tom Brady to say a bad word about Bill Belichick.
Drama between the two pillars of the Patriots dynasty reportedly played a key role in Brady’s departure after 20 years in New England, but the quarterback pushed back on that idea Wednesday during an expansive two-hour interview with Stern.
Given every opportunity to dish on Belichick, Brady wouldn’t bite and only had positive things to say about the only head coach he ever had in the NFL before signing with the Buccaneers last month.
“I think [Belichick] has a lot of loyalty,” Brady said on Stern’s show on SiriusXM. “He and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody’s ever been privy to and nor should they be. So many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship or about how he felt about me. I know genuinely how he feels about me.
“I’m not going to respond to every rumor or assumption that’s made, other than what his responsibility as coach is to try to get the best player for the team, not only in the short term but the long term as well. So what I could control was trying to be the best I could be in both of those situations also.”
ESPN reported that the relationship between Brady and Belichick had “run its course” and executives involved in Brady’s free-agent chase believed he “seemed so driven by an animus toward Belichick.”
Multiple episodes reportedly got the relationship to that point, including Belichick wanting to keep Jimmy Garoppolo as the Patriots’ quarterback of the future and not wanting to commit to Brady beyond a year-to-year basis.
Belichick is known for moving on from talented players just before they begin to decline, and Brady seemed to be no exception.
“I got to a point where I was an older athlete and he’s starting to plan for the future, which is what his responsibility is,” Brady said. “I don’t fault him for that. That’s what he should be doing.”
Belichick spoke glowingly of Brady in a statement released by the Patriots after the 42-year-old announced he was leaving. Brady has only returned the favor since then.
“To have him allowed me to be the best I could be, so I’m grateful for that,” Brady said. “I very much believe he feels the same way about me because we’ve expressed that to each other.”
Earlier in the interview, Brady said he and Belichick always saw eye-to-eye on wide receivers that weren’t fitting in.
“I would say, ‘I don’t have any trust this guy can help us win the game,’” Brady said. “I definitely expressed my opinion to say, ‘If you put him out there, I’m not going to throw him the ball.’
“Fortunately for me, coach Belichick always saw it the same way, which is why I think we have such a great connection. He saw football very much the same way I saw it. … We saw the process of winning very much the same way.”