In a recent book detailing the history of the New England Patriots and their legacy, author Seth Wickersham describes how Tom Brady and the team’s relationship frayed thanks in part to Bill Belichick’s refusal to sign a long-term contract with the quarterback. Wickersham’s book, entitled “It’s Better To Be Feared”, tells the story of a relationship on the cusp of breaking down due to the demands of Brady for at least a 2-year-long contract. Brady had been given a year-to-year deal due to Belichick’s insistence that he didn’t want to craft the team around a quarterback whose longevity on the field was uncertain.
In 2019, when the internal drama unfolded, Brady was already 42 and well past the age of retirement for most professional athletes, especially for those who were footballers. Brady wanted a contract that would see him to at least the age of 45 and would offer security in his role but he was refused. According to the book, the disgruntled Brady started to refuse to take part in voluntary team activities and began training in a private gym in protest of the arrangement.
Regardless of Brady’s protests, Belichick refused the quarterback’s request for a contract renegotiation. The team owner, Robert Kraft, reportedly was willing to come to the table but decided to stay out of the conflict and off of Belichick’s toes. Though Brady was unhappy he didn’t quit the team, playing until the end of his contract. Nevertheless, the change in attitude was evident for his teammates and he began to have a clear disdain for the ‘Patriot Way’.
Eventually, Brady became a free agent once more and was quickly picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a 2-year $50 million contract. Shortly after he led the Buccaneer’s team to a Super Bowl win.