ESPN’s Ian O’Connor spoke with 350 people while writing his new book, Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time, due for release next week. One of the juicy excerpts making the rounds right now is the following, which paints the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick relationship as a deeply flawed marriage — and that one party wouldn’t mind breaking up.
“If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” [a source with knowledge told O’Connor].
“Tom knows Bill is the best coach in the league, but he’s had enough of him. If Tom could, I think he would divorce him.”
We knew this. Or at least we knew the two strong-willed future Hall of Famers had an ample amount of friction. The relationship is one of the most closely scrutinized in all of sports. It hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies, but compromise has moved them along through all of these years.
This may be a loveless marriage. It may be a marriage of convenience. They may feel stuck. These are are common problems. But perhaps the best way to understand what’s going on here is to see Brady and Belichick as a duo staying together for the good of the kids. For all the turmoil and tumult, they know they make a damn good team when it comes to raising trophies.
The palace intrigue is, obviously, intriguing. It also doesn’t matter to the bottom line. At all.
Brady and Belichick have co-existed for 18 years. They’ve won five Super Bowls and eight AFC Championships together. They’ve spearheaded arguably the greatest NFL dynasty. They’ve stayed together and worked it out.
Brady is 41. When the time comes for him to hang it up — or the time comes for Belichick to retire the hoodie — there will be no meat left on the bone, no championships left on the table. They’ll have maximized the success. And it will go down as a successful marriage, warts and all.
So, sure, maybe Brady can move out and get his own condo. Maybe Bill can get an artist’s loft and a new haircut. It’s pretty late in the game, however, for either to have a second act with someone else. The greener pastures window is rapidly closing.
Acrimony has been the status quo. This couple, like so many, grit their teeth and bear it. A successful marriage need not be perfect. And there’s no doubt both guys have gotten a lot out of the arrangement compared to the amount they’ve sacrificed.