Because the New England Patriots had a bye last week and had no media obligations after the ESPN story detailing inner strife with the team came out, that story has bled into this week.
That story took many turns, and one was that there was a growing sense the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady/Robert Kraft triangle of power could be breaking up after this season. Kraft isn’t selling the team, Brady isn’t going anywhere after an MVP season with no backup quarterback plan on the roster anymore, so that leaves Belichick.
And Belichick isn’t going anywhere either, he says. When asked Monday if he intended to coach the Patriots next season he replied “absolutely,” according to NBC Sports Boston’s Michael Giardi.
While there were other parts of the story that were quite interesting, the one crucial element is if any of the purported power struggle affects if Belichick will be around in 2018, assuming Brady and Kraft aren’t going anywhere. If we take Belichick at his word — it’s not a binding contract to tell the media you plan to be back in New England for another season, and like Brady saying he has a “great relationship” with Belichick, there’s really no other way for Belichick to answer the question before a playoff push — then the story is just fun fodder and an interesting look behind the curtain. As long as Belichick and Brady are back in 2018, the rest just gets sports talk radio through the day.
As for getting Belichick to open up about any of the other parts of the ESPN story, good luck. Belichick said he hadn’t read the article, which is a bit hard to believe, but we’re talking about Belichick here.
“I know you want to report on things that are inaccurate and unattributable, and I’m not interested in responding to all those random and in a lot of cases baseless comments,” Belichick said, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
The New England media even tried to get Belichick to answer about a New York Daily News story that claimed he had eyes for the New York Giants’ coaching job, which is open. That rumor ignored that Belichick is under contract with the Patriots and it’s impossible to imagine Kraft letting Belichick go. But all that matters to Belichick is Saturday night’s playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.
“Right now my interest is trying to do the best I can for our football team to get ready,” Belichick replied when asked about the Giants, via Giardi.
You’re not going to flummox the Patriots this easily. Whereas other teams seem to let off-field drama spiral out of control — the days and days of Steelers angst over Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live snafu last postseason comes to mind — the Patriots seem to ignore outside issues better than any other franchise. If anything, they’ll probably turn it into motivation. That’s what they do.
We’ll find out how deep the Patriots issues are this offseason if Belichick leaves, as unlikely as that seems. For now, everyone at the Patriots claims there’s nothing going on. Not that we expected a different answer.
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