Yes, the workouts are “voluntary”, but there must be something happening behind the scenes especially for Brady to miss these meetings. “There are some teams where it’s not a big deal if guys miss part of the offseason program,” Ross Tucker, who played for Bill Belichick in 2005-2006, tweeted. “New England is not one of them.”
Gronk has been doing a song and dance this offseason about potentially retiring. He posted a not-so-cryptic message on Instagram when Danny Amendola left for the Dolphins, and reports have trickled out that he is displeased about being shackled by Belichick’s no-nonsense style of management.
Brady is in Qatar, nominally for charity work with his Best Buddies organization. Nevertheless, he surely could have scheduled this trip around a time that it did not conflict with Patriots activities. This is the first time he’s missed voluntary workouts in eight years:
Whether Brady and Gronk are miffed at the way Belichick has treated their workout guru Alex Guerrero, or there remains a rift that Belichick finally rolled snake eyes in benching Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl, or the general ego clashing that always tends to crumble sports dynasties, there is something there.
The Patriots were able to weather all the noise about clashing egos late last season, so it would be premature to declare that their run is over, but the drama is festering and it will remain fascinating to see whether and to what extent it manifests on the field next season.