Breakups almost always have a winner and a loser, even if it takes time to figure out which is which.
The highly public split between Tom Brady and Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick is no exception, and Brady is looking like the clear victor as he prepares to play in his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday while Belichick’s team struggled in his absence.
Brady, however, wasn’t about to badmouth his ex when given an opportunity during Monday’s virtual media day with reporters ahead of the Super Bowl that will see him lead his Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“My football journey took me to a different place, and I certainly could have never accomplished the things in my career without his support and his teachings,” Brady said of Belichick. “Incredible coach and mentor for me. I’ve had a lot of those in my career, but obviously he’s at the top of the list.”
Brady and Belichick went to nine Super Bowls together during their unprecedented run in New England. While reports of discord started to surface occasionally over the final couple of seasons, Brady continues to insist publicly there is no rift.
“I have a great relationship with him,” Brady said of Belichick. “I’m just incredibly grateful for what he’s meant in my life as a coach. He was everything you could ask for as a player. I loved my time (with the Patriots). I had two incredible decades there.”
The comments are hardly surprising given Brady’s tendency to adapt his former coach’s methods of saying little to the media that could distract from the larger goals. Brady has a Super Bowl to prepare for and doesn’t need to stir up any drama for himself or his new teammates as they get set to become the first team to host a Super Bowl on its home field.
It may even be the last time the 43-year-old Brady takes a team to such heights. He has set a goal in the past of playing until at least age 45. His ability to play at such a high level this year in his first season in Bruce Arians’ riskier system has Brady believing there’s no reason to stop now.
He finished third in passing yards and tied for second in passing touchdowns while finishing as Pro Football Focus’s No. 2-ranked quarterback in the NFL this season.
He accomplished all of that while playing in a new system that wasn’t supposed to mesh with what made Brady so successful with the Patriots.
Brady believes there’s no reason to put a timeline on himself now.
“I think I’ll know when it’s time,” Brady said. “I don’t know when that time will come. But I think I’ll know. And I’ll understand that I gave everything I could to give to this game. You put a lot into it. I don’t think I could ever go at this game half-ass. I’ve gotta put everything into it. When I put it all out there, (when) I feel like I can’t do it anymore, I don’t feel like I can commit to the team in the way that the team needs me, then I think that’s when it’s probably time to walk away.”
Maybe then he can spike the football on Belichick. More likely, he’ll probably try to do it by putting another ring on his finger Sunday.