FOXBORO -- It's always an interesting dynamic when a new reporter settles into a seat inside the Gillette Stadium workroom ready to spar with Bill Belichick. The reporter has a job to do and will ask questions he or she feels are legitimate, and Belichick will engage as he sees fit.
One of the more entertaining (or awkward, depending on your viewpoint) back-and-forths between Belichick and a curious journalist - who was arguably not all that ready to spar based on one of his follow-ups - occurred on Wednesday morning when the topic of Rob Gronkowski's status popped up.
Gronkowski entered into the league's concussion protocol following a hit by Jaguars safety Barry Church during the NFL title game, per NFL Media. You can find the details on what the protocol entails here.
Did Belichick expect the All-Pro tight end to play, the reporter asked. Any updates there?
"Yeah, we'll be compliant with the NFL injury report," Belichick said, "and when that's required we'll put it on."
When will the process be finished, the reporter pressed on? (There is no timetable on concussion recovery or the NFL's protocol because of the nature of those types of injuries.)
"When what process is finished?" Belichick asked. "Whatever the situation is, whatever his status is, we'll put it on the injury report. We'll make sure you're the first one to get it."
"I'm sure you will," the reporter said sarcastically.
"Not a problem," Belichick said.
When the question was posed again as to whether or not Belichick expected Gronkowski to play, Belichick answered, "We'll put it right on the injury report and that's what we're going to do, like everybody else does. We'll make sure you're first on this list."
"Thank you," said the reporter, seemingly exasperated.
"Don't want to hold anything back here," Belichick said.
The reporter appeared fed up at this point, saying, "I know you don't."
Belichick had the final word. "It's all we can do," he said.
In an interview with The Big Lead, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long spoke on the drama surrounding Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
It's safe to say he doesn't put much stock into it.
I just think any NFL team, any NFL locker room under a lot of stress over a year period, there are going to be storylines people can choose to kind of blow out of proportion or not pay attention to. I think everyone’s going to pay attention to sometimes really small issues. Whatever people are alluding to going on up there hasn’t affected their play, it hasn’t affected their bottom line. It hasn’t affected how they executed on Sundays.
Long played with the Patriots during the 2016 season and won Super Bowl 51 with them before signing a two-year contract with the Eagles. The Eagles then went on to beat New England in Super Bowl 52. If anyone outside of the Patriots' locker room has an idea of the culture inside the past two years, Long has to be one of them.
It took everything for us to beat them. It took a heroic performance by Nick Foles and we had to play our best game. So while everybody likes to always point to the Patriots as being under duress or there’s some drama in the locker room, there’s drama in every locker room that you could blow out of proportion. They’re just on top and those stories sell because they’ve been so great.
ESPN's Seth Wickersham released a story detailing some of the issues that arose in New England over the past few years in January, and with Brady missing almost all of the Patriots' voluntary workouts last month, some have started to wonder whether this is the end for one of both of Brady-Belichick.
While their hasn't been much public acknowledgement from either side about the drama, but Long certainly doesn't see much substance to the noise.
Tony Romo's Super Bowl prediction of the Jacksonville Jaguars taking over the AFC title from the Patriots and facing the Green Bay Packers in Atlanta in SB53 drew a response from Tom Brady on Instagram.
The NFL's official Instagram account posted a photo of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the prediction of Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys QB now the analyst on CBS' No. 1 NFL broadcast team. Here's a screenshot, complete with Brady's comment:
Appearing on the NFL Network earlier this week, Romo said rumors of a rift between Brady and coach Bill Belichick are overblown. “I think they probably squabble just like any married couple for 20 years, and then they also love each other.
“I just think when you work together for 15 to 20 years, whatever it is, I think that whenever you have the success that they have, people have to come up with stuff,” Romo said. “I also think that I’ve been upset with my coaches before, and then you come back and you’re fine. And then you get upset with them, and you come back and you’re fine. It’s a part of sports.”
Brady and the Patriots report to camp on July 26.