Bill Belichick Wouldn’t Meet Tom Brady to Say Goodbye, ESPN Reporter Says

"It's Better to Be Feared" by ESPN senior writer Seth Wickersham will be published on October 12

Tom Brady talks to Bill Belichick before a game in 2019
Tom Brady talks to Bill Belichick before a game in 2019.
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

As Tom Brady and Bill Belichick privately lob grenades back and forth while keeping everything civil on the surface ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ visit to the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football, an ESPN reporter who has previously reported on the pair is adding some fuel to the fire ahead of a new book release.

Ahead of the publication of It’s Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness on October 12 by ESPN senior writer Seth Wickersham, The Worldwide Leader released a few nuggets from the book to help keep the hype train for Sunday’s game rolling strong.

One of those nuggets, which Bill Belichick surprisingly addressed and denied was true in his weekly Wednesday press conference, suggested the longtime New England coach refused to meet with Brady in person when the quarterback asked to say goodbye after deciding he was going to leave the team for Tampa Bay. Per the book, Belichick said he wasn’t available and insisted the two New England Patriots legends talk on the phone instead of meeting up.

“Even though Belichick told Brady that he was ‘the best player the league had ever seen,’ Brady told a friend the fact it came over the phone was ‘telling’ about how badly the duo’s relationship had deteriorated over the years,” according to ESPN’s piece publicizing the book.

The actual excerpts from the book that were published on Wednesday indicate Brady ultimately wanted to leave the team because he wanted Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft to give him a contract that paid him through age 45, but they were unwilling to commit to him or listen to his thoughts on roster-building. (New England’s signing of Antonio Brown and trade for Mohamed Sanu in the 2019 season would indicate otherwise on the latter matter.)

“Tom Brady had been curious if there was another way of winning, and while nobody was arguing that [Tampa Bay coach] Bruce Arians was a better coach than Bill Belichick, or even close, 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? 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. 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.”

Expect more nuggets and dirt from the book, as well as more mud-slinging from the respective Brady and Belichick camps, before (and likely after) the Patriots and Bucs play on Sunday night.

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