Media reports suggested Tom Brady (L) has become less tolerant of criticism from head coach Bill Belichick
New York (AFP) - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft released a joint statement Friday denying a rift between the leaders of the reigning Super Bowl champions.
The move came just hours after an ESPN story detailing divisions and serious disagreements between the legendary coach, his 40-year-old superstar passer and the team’s influential owner as they prepare to guide the Patriots in quest of a sixth NFL crown under their reign.
Among the issues are perks for Brady’s long-time personal trainer and business partner Alex Guerrero, the team’s long-term plans at quarterback and Belichick’s tough as nails coaching style, including his emphasis on players arriving on time for workouts Thursday in a blizzard with hurricane-force winds.
“For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship,” the statement said.
“In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate.
“The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the post-season and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years.
“It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united.”
ESPN reported that Brady’s focus on Guerrero’s training methods to stay in top condition at an age when most NFL players have retired often forced other players to choose between his methods and those of the team.
Belichick spoke with Brady about training at TB12, the Brady-owned therapy center adjacent to the stadium, saying some players felt pressured into working out there, according to the report, and soon after Guerrero had his access to the team reduced.
The report said Brady has become less tolerant of criticism from Belichick over mistakes, feeling after his achievement of winning five Super Bowls he should not have to endure such grief.
Adding to supposed tensions was the Patriots dealing away potential Brady quarterback replacement Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers, ESPN reporting the move was made under direct orders from Kraft against Belichick’s wishes.
ESPN said there October talks between Brady and the 76-year-old Patriots owner in which the quarterback emphasized his desire to play into his mid-40s, a rare feat among NFL passers.