Patriots say they're 'united' after report of increasing feuds

Jan 5, 2018 - 6:00 PM There is a growing rift among the key men who have helped the New England Patriots win five Super Bowls in the past 16 seasons, according to a report on

The story, written by Seth Wickersham, claims "serious disagreements" among owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Wickersham, citing interviews with more than a dozen New England staffers, executives, players and league sources with knowledge of the team's inner workings, wrote that the three men "differ on Brady's trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team's long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick's bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing."

Earlier this season, Belichick stripped Guerrero of access to the team's headquarters and sideline on game day.

"New players felt the surest way to earn Brady's trust was to join Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and others by seeking advice from Guerrero at his TB12 clinic -- and not team doctors, which Belichick preferred," according to the ESPN story. ...

"(A)ccording to multiple sources, players openly discussed with Patriots coaches, staff and trusted advisers whether to follow Brady or the team, leaving them trapped: Do we risk alienating the NFL's most powerful coach or risk alienating the NFL's most powerful quarterback?"

The Patriots did not respond on the record for the story, other than to say it contained "several inaccuracies" and multiple events "that absolutely did not occur."

The team released a joint statement from Kraft, Belichick and Brady on Friday morning, repeating those themes:

"For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship. 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 postseason 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."

Some of the fallout, according to ESPN, was the in-season trade of backup Jimmy Garoppolo, an impending free agent who was seen by Belichick as the future of the franchise at quarterback. The 40-year-old Brady wants to continue playing, making it hard for the two to co-exist on the same roster.

According to ESPN: "Brady is famously unhelpful toward his backups -- or, at least, a threat like Garoppolo. The two quarterbacks were friendly, but Brady -- like Joe Montana to Steve Young and Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers -- didn't see it as his role to advise Garoppolo, even on matters as trivial as footwork, as nobody had helped him during his climb."

Kraft sided with Brady, meeting with Belichick two weeks before the trading deadline to deliver his directive.

"According to staffers, the meeting ran long, lasting half the day and pushing back Belichick's other meetings," Wickersham wrote. "The office was buzzing. 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."

Belichick traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick, leaving no clear succession plan after Brady. Garoppolo went on to go 5-0 as a starter in San Francisco.

Kraft, Belichick and Brady have been together since the 2000, when Belichick was in his first season with the team and Brady was a sixth-round draft pick. They won their first Super Bowl in the 2001 season.

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