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‘He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time’: Bill Belichick reacts to Tom Brady leaving the Patriots

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Related: ‘A lifetime full of fun memories’: Tom Brady shares his thoughts on leaving the Patriots

Dallas Cowboys v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era will go down in NFL annals as the most successful stretch the league has ever seen. Between Brady’s ascension to the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback position in 2001 and his announcement that he would leave the organization earlier on Tuesday, the two combined to win six Super Bowls as well as nine conference championships and 17 AFC East titles. Their dominance was unprecedented.

All things must come to an end, however, and Brady and Belichick will move on without each other now that the quarterback will wear another uniform in 2020. Shortly after his announcement, his long-time head coach made a statement of his own to praise Brady and the relationship that the two have built over the years — one that has led to the greatest run in pro football history and will possibly never be duplicated again.

Belichick’s statement reads as follows:

Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators. Tom lived and perpetuated our culture. On a daily basis, he was a tone setter and a bar raiser. He won championships in three of his first four years on the field and in three of his final six seasons with us, while competing for championships in most every season in between. This is a credit to Tom’s consistency and what separates him. He didn’t just perform. He didn’t just win. He won championships over and over again.

Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation. Tom’s success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.

Examples of Tom’s greatness are limitless, going back even before he was drafted. We witnessed how he prepared when he wasn’t playing, how he performed when he got his opportunity, what he did to continuously improve, his leadership, his mindset, the example he set, and, of course, the person he is. I am extremely grateful for what he did for our team and for me personally.

Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.