Patriots

Bill Belichick: Tom Brady 'iconic' but Patriots QB's future not up to coach alone

Bill Belichick: Tom Brady 'iconic' but Patriots QB's future not up to coach alone

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick reiterated it multiple times. He didn't want to discuss the future. Still, the questions came. 

During his end-of-the-season press conference on Sunday morning at Gillette Stadium, he was lobbed queries about Tom Brady's future. He deflected questions about his own future.

Almost 10 minutes into his back-and-forth, though, he provided some insight on the mechanics involved in a decision on Brady's whereabouts for 2020. 

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"Everybody's situation on the team is different," Belichick said. "There are no two that are exactly the same. But the future is the future for all of them, just as it is for Tom and anyone else you want to bring up.

"Certainly Tom is an iconic figure in this organization. Nobody respects Tom more than I do. I respect all the other players and all the other coaches in this organization, too. I think that everybody is an important part of it.

"I want to give the proper attention and communication and detail and thought into my input into those decisions. But any decisions made, it's not an individual decision. There are other people involved. There has to be some type of communication, understanding, agreement, whatever you want to call it. 

"That's not a one-way street. I hope you can understand that. Not one person is going to decide what everyone else is going to do when players aren't under contract. We have a lot of players that aren't under contract."

Brady's input, obviously, will matter. Does he want to be back in New England? If so, then what will it require in terms of years and dollars to keep him there?

How does the structure in place with the Patriots — is Josh McDaniels around or no? — impact his decision one way or the other?

Ownership's input, obviously, will matter. Belichick and Robert Kraft clearly were comfortable going into the 2019 season with Brady on a one-year deal. Brady is now scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career.

Could the Kraft family let their face of the franchise for the last two decades walk? What's the number that would lead them to determine it's time to move on?

There's some calculus there — where the lines blur between business decision and football decision, yet where lines will be drawn — that's next to impossible to decipher at this point.

The only certainty at the moment, as it pertains to Brady's future, is that there is uncertainty. 

Rob Gronkowski: Joe Judge was 'out of control' with Patriots (in a good way)

Rob Gronkowski: Joe Judge was 'out of control' with Patriots (in a good way)

Patriots fans didn't see or hear much from Joe Judge during his tenure in New England.

Apparently they missed out.

Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski dropped an eyebrow-raising quote Tuesday about Judge, who recently became the New York Giants' head coach after eight years in New England.

"Joe Judge is a great guy,” Gronkowski said on an "NFL on FOX" media panel in Miami, via NJ.com. "He’s out of control and I love it."

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If the guy who once used the Lombardi Trophy as a baseball bat says you're out of control, you must be really out of control.

Gronkowski didn't get into specifics, but suggested Judge brought quite the sense of humor to Patriots team meetings.

“He’s out of control in all ways,” Gronk said. "He’s fun to be around, he has a lot of great jokes and they’re funny ... He had me laughing many times in meetings."

Judge rarely gave interviews as a Patriots special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach, so only his players saw this side of the 38-year-old Philadelphia native.

But Gronk also saw the side of Judge that he believes will make him a great head coach in New York.

"He knew where every single player needed to be on every single play," Gronkowski said. "It was unbelievable. ... He knew it in a split second, so it wasn’t like he had to think of where this player needed to be, he knew it in a split second. You just knew he’s made for the game of football."

Judge may have to tone down his inner jokester now that he's a head coach in a major media market. He clearly has a kindred spirit in Gronk, though.

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Revisiting the 'enlightening' lesson Kobe Bryant taught Bill Belichick, Patriots

Revisiting the 'enlightening' lesson Kobe Bryant taught Bill Belichick, Patriots

In a statement Tuesday, Bill Belichick said he had "never witnessed a group as captivated" as the New England Patriots when Kobe Bryant spoke to the team in May 2018.

Belichick wasn't just paying lip service.

On Tuesday, NFL Films resurfaced a clip from HBO's "The Art of Coaching" documentary about Belichick and Alabama head coach Nick Saban in which both coaching legends reflected on their interactions with Bryant.

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These comments came in March 2019, more than 10 months before Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were tragically killed Sunday in a helicopter crash.

Here's what Belichick had to say at the time about Bryant's message to the Patriots:

Another thing he said to us, which was an awesome message, was, "When I was 25 (years old), I could go out and score 30 (points). When I was 35, 38, I could score 30, but it wasn't the same way. I had to learn how to play without the ball. I had to learn how to play in less space. I had to learn how to use picks differently. I couldn't just drive to the basket like I could in my younger days. I could still score, but I had to change my game."

That was so enlightening for all our players that heard that. Because you're sitting there looking at his career and then we're all thinking about ours. It's changed for me just like it's changed for the players.

Belichick is a student of football. He has won six Super Bowl titles over 20 years in New England by constantly adapting, changing his approach as a head coach and general manager to stay ahead of the game's shifting trends.

Belichick clearly saw the same trait in Bryant, who averaged 22.3 points per game at age 36 (after tearing his Achilles tendon) by altering his style of play after hours of study and practice. The 42-year-old Tom Brady obviously took Bryant's message to heart, as well.

Bryant is gone much too soon at age 41, but the impact he had on players and coaches of all sports will live on.