Wickersham vs The Patriots

The New England Patriots franchise is going to be coming under scrutiny once again. That's a sentence we've heard quite a bit over the last 20 years.

New England Patriots lover Seth Wickersham is going to release a book on October 12th that, "spills the beans" on the Patriots dynasty from 2001-2019. Wickersham, of course, is known to Patriots fans as the guy who "exposed" the issues between the head coach and legendary QB.

Inside the book, it dives deeper into the relationship between Brady and Kraft, the relationship between Brady and Belichick, and apparently the relationship between Belichick and fan favorite NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Not too much is known about the entirety of the books contents, but a few snippets and information has come out that will send the NFL media into it's own tailspin.

The Patriots embarked on a never before seen run from 2001-2019, one that will never be duplicated. On April 16th, 2000, the Patriots drafted some QB named Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. out of the University of Michigan with the 199th pick in the NFL draft. They uncharacteristically held onto 4 QBs that offseason in order to make sure that Brady didn't end up on another team, so someone somewhere in that organization thought enough of him to go to extra lengths to keep him. Considering the personnel decisions have largely been made by Belichick, it's safe to assume that Belichick had taken a liking to him. Brady had been a fighter his entire football life up to that point. He wasn't good enough to be a starter for a winless, scoreless, 0-8 JV football team in high school, then only got the starting job on varsity because the other QB got injured. The rest was all him. He managed to make it to Michigan to play football, but even that wasn't ideal. The first two years, Brady sat behind future NFL quarterback Brian Griese, who led them to a share of a national championship and a Rose Bowl victory in 1997. Brady had to battle with Drew Henson, but started every game in the 1998 and 1999 seasons. However, in the 1999 season, Brady had to share time with Drew Henson. Brady started the first quarters, earning the technical starts, while Henson played the 2nd quarters until the head coach made a decision for the rest of the game. The Wolverines started undefeated for the first 5 contests, but in the 6th game against rival Michigan State, the future Patriot was not chosen to finish out the 2nd half. After being down 17, Brady was reinserted into the game to do what he does best. Despite the game ending with a loss, Brady brought them all the way back. The next week Brady had a 300 yard performance that won him the starting job fully for the rest of the season. He finished his college career with a 20-5 record including Citrus Bowl and Orange Bowl wins.

The fact that Michigan flipped between Henson and Brady, ultimately hurt Brady's draft stock, as did a rather pedestrian combine performance. He sat and watched as 6 other QBs were taken ahead of him. And with the 199th pick, the Patriots landed what would be come the greatest QB to play the game. Jumping from 4th to 2nd on the depth chart in his rookie season should've been an indication of what was to come, but nobody expected what happened next. On September 23rd in a game against the New York Jets, Mo Lewis hit Drew Bledsoe as hard as possible, injuring him in the process. And out came Tom Brady onto the field. Then you have the Tuck Rule, which people often mislabel as a cheating scandal. The final outcome ended with Adam Vinatieri hitting the game winner for what would be the first of 6 Super Bowls that Brady would obtain with the Patriots. Brady would win two more Super Bowls in repeat fashion in the 2003-2004 seasons, which by then, Brady had arrived as a household name. Brady and the Patriots would do the unthinkable in the NFL history in 2007, they went undefeated. The Patriots regularly beat up their opponents, but did get the occasional challenge, including a final game scrum against the Giants. Going 19-0 would've put them in history as almost undoubtedly the greatest team of all time, but it wasn't meant to be as the Patriots were a helmet catch away. Brady was injured the next year on a low hit at the knee, but since then has remained upright and healthy.

Deflategate took it's toll on the legacy that Brady carries. He was always going to be disliked. Success will do that. But when Deflategate hit the news, everyone labeled Brady as "cheater", innocent or not, evidence or not. The debate still rages on, but a lot of pundits doubt the NFL findings were conclusive enough. "More probable than not" isn't enough to convict actual crimes, but it is enough for the NFL. They were never going to "let Brady win." Fast forward to 2018, and Brady had went on to win his 6th Super Bowl with the Patriots, but things were starting to take a turn behind the scenes.

Bill Belichick, made his way up the rankings as a coach, and became a prominent defensive coordinator under the tutelage of Bill Parcells. Belichick waited his turn. He won two Super Bowls as a coordinator with the Giants, his defensive game plan is actually in the Hall of Fame, which he parlayed into a head coaching job in the oft-struggling franchise of the original Cleveland Browns. Where Belichick was cerebral and calculated, it didn't completely transfer over to his tenure as a head coach of the Browns. His overall record in Cleveland was 36-44, including a playoff appearance and win against the Patriots in 1994, but it wasn't without reason. In 1993, Belichick made the decision to cut Bernie Kosar midway through the season. In 1995, the Browns started 3-1, only to have their owner announce that he was moving the team out of Cleveland. A lost season anchored by the looming franchise relocation, the Browns finished 5-11. The ensuing move created the Baltimore Ravens franchise, but that move and relocation did not include the Browns coaching staff and Belichick, as he was fired in early 1996. The Browns franchise was later rebooted and struggled mightily until their most recent successful seasons.

After he was fired, Belichick returned to Parcells' staff in New England for the 1996 season. The New York Jets would be on the receiving end for Belichick twice, the first being in 1997. Belichick was named as interim head coach briefly as the Jets negotiated with Bill Parcells to be their head coach. Jump ahead two years, Belichick was in line to become a head coach again. The Patriots began making overtures to hire Belichick away, which led to Parcells resigning in order to keep Belichick in New York. According to the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "The Two Bills," it was just a bad way to handle things and didn't sit well with Belichick that he was basically being blocked from the Patriots. The Jets officially hired Bill Belichick as their next head coach on January 4th, 2000, and he resigned from the position that same day during the press conference. Not too long after, the Patriots would hire Bill Belichick as their next head coach after firing Pete Carroll. In response, the Jets demanded (and won) compensation from the Patriots due to Belichick still being under contract.

Belichick began his tenure in New England with a 5-11 record after owner Robert Kraft gave him near full control of football operations, overall Belichick has a 245-94 record with the Patriots to date. Throughout his tenure Belichick has been labeled as cold, like cutting Tiquan Underwood the day before the Super Bowl, calculated, genius, mastermind, among other not so nice things. According to Wickersham's new book, Kraft has even called him the "biggest f***ing a**hole" in his life. But Belichick is old school. He's business first, pleasantries later. In a somewhat literal way of thinking, in this day and age, he's a dinosaur. He's not going to pad your feelings. He's going to tell you like it is. Which is where the problems allegedly began.

Brady and Belichick worked together for 20 years. If you've ever worked at one place for 20 years, you'd probably get sick of seeing the same guy every day unless you were best friends. They were not. Brady was his player, Belichick was his coach. Brady would get criticized for bad play in front of teammates, as would anyone else. Belichick would treat him like a 6th rounder whether he won no Super Bowls, or 18 Super Bowls. Or at least that's how the story goes. Maybe Belichick should've changed how he treated his star QB after 4 Super Bowls, or after a comeback win against the Falcons that will withstand the test of time. But Brady wasn't entirely innocent in this either. According to Wickersham's new book, in 2017, Brady was done with Belichick. Kraft was in no rush to meet a life after Belichick as head coach, but Brady seemed to be more on board with the idea. Of course 2017 was the year that the entire Jimmy G saga was being played out in. Brady, according to the book, was part of a little group who tried to figure out who would replace Belichick. In the event that McDaniels took a head coaching job, the name brought up was Bill O'Brien, who was "trying to get fired" by Houston. He could've just resigned, but when has Bill O'Brien made sense? Brady, Kraft, and Belichick all met to bury the hatchet and get back to work and remain successful. As the 2019 season rolled on, Brady looked done. He was still a great QB, but he was playing uninterested, uninspired football. He was done in the Patriots organization, he was done with Bill.

The new book is sure to stir up the same old stories they've been running with for a few years now, but when asked about it Belichick said, "There are a few things about this book; it sounds like it's a lot of second, third and fourth-hand comments." Does anyone really care at this point? Other than to start drama, this book has no bearing on what happened. Brady ultimately got what he wanted, an organization that would allow him input into decisions. Belichick ultimately was given the chance to begin a life without Brady. Whether that is truly what he wanted, we'll never 100% know. But it's what he got. In the mean time, Brady went onto a successful season with the Buccaneers, Belichick gets a chance with a promising rookie. And this Sunday night, they meet. Seth Wickersham can write 100 books about this subject, and ESPN will give it full coverage as if it's life changing news about the last 3 years of the Patriots tenure of Tom Brady.

It worked until it couldn't. 20 years. 6 Super Bowls. How many does Wickersham have? 0.

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