Kraft downplays tension with Belichick and Brady, says they've had meeting

Kraft downplays tension with Belichick and Brady, says they've had meeting

ORLANDO – Robert Kraft once again downplayed high-level Patriots tension as standard fare in a competitive business.

He also said he has met both jointly with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and also seen them individually since the season ended.

In a 20-minute give-and-take with reporters on Monday here at the Ritz-Carlton, Kraft adeptly answered an array of questions on Rob Gronkowski, Malcolm Butler, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s management style.

Both behind the scenes and in front of cameras on his "Tom vs. Time" documentary, Brady has signaled a level of ambivalence and dissatisfaction we haven’t seen previously. His wife, Gisele Bundchen said during the close of the documentary that Brady just wants to go to work and have fun and feel appreciated. The inference was clear. That’s not the way he felt it was in 2017.

Kraft chalked that up to the timing of the interview which was done three days after the Patriots Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.

“I talk to Tom a lot and I think anyone right after a Super Bowl loss...when you lose one the pain of losing is harder than the joy of winning. At least,” said Kraft. “I think Tommy’s in that category. Coach has been wise and he’s told players and people that you don’t make any decisions or go public with feelings in that few weeks after the Super Bowl loss.

“On the other hand, that piece that Tom did, I think was a great piece for our fans and I think we as a league have to do more of that.”

I asked Kraft if that instance of Brady stepping in front of the cameras in a way that Belichick’s always discouraged was in conflict with what the team’s espoused.

“This is not an engineering firm where everything’s A, B, C, D,” Kraft replied. “I think Bill’s structure is pretty good most of the time and has worked pretty well. If someone told you 10 years ago Tom Brady would be quarterbacking a team that would go to seven straight conference championship games and that at 40 years old he’d be playing in a Super Bowl and be the league MVP? I think there are adjustments.”

Without stating specifically what the “adjustments” were, Kraft continued with this anecdote.

“I think part of the NFL in the salary cap era is you have to adjust quickly,” he explained. “You can’t have fixed situations. We have a guy quarterbacking our team and then we have players coming in who were five or six years old who watched him on TV. They’re starry-eyed. How do you do that? How do you get the chemistry right so they feel comfortable? We’ll try to go with the flow and work things around?”
That seems to be an allusion to the fact a 40-year-old quarterback desires and perhaps should have more latitude to do things that he’d like to do.  

Kraft indicated that the “meeting” had been held.

“Yes, we had the meeting,” he said. “And just to be clear. I don’t know if things sorta...we have meetings all the time. We’re not a big bureaucratic organization. We don’t have boards, we answer to the fans as best we can. We met. And I met individually with each of them. But the thing I don’t know if it’s completely understood is Bill and Tom meet a lot and spend a lot of time communicating. I think the residual of this loss was really hard on everyone but I see that as a high-class problem.”

Kraft was bemused by the notion that “tension” wouldn’t be present in New England.  

“That word tension...I’ve owned the team 24 seasons,” said Kraft. “I’ve had Bill as a head coach for 18 of those seasons. When I think about tension I think about my first year as an owner. I love Bill Parcells but if you knew him as a coach, the players walked on eggshells. Maybe ownership did as we went down the learning curve of how to get along. And it was a great lesson for me to learn how to get along and be a good owner and at the same time how to work with a very strong and powerful coach. 

“In any successful business, in a marriage, if you have a good relationship there will be things where you disagree,” Kraft added. “But hopefully you come together and you have a meeting of the minds and you discuss things. If everyone’s all on the same page, usually things don’t go as well.”

By many accounts, people weren’t just failing to be on the same page in 2017, they weren’t in the same book.  


Tom Brady 'proud' of ex-teammate Jimmy Garoppolo's success with 49ers

Tom Brady 'proud' of ex-teammate Jimmy Garoppolo's success with 49ers

Tom Brady is admiring ex-Patriots teammate Jimmy Garoppolo's success with the 49ers from afar.

Despite suffering his first loss of the season on Monday night vs. the Seahawks, the former Pats backup quarterback is thriving as San Francisco's starting QB. Garoppolo, like Brady, has his team off to an 8-1 start and pegged as a favorite to compete in Miami for Super Bowl LIV.

Brady talked about Garoppolo's early success on Monday during his weekly Westwood One interview with Jim Gray.

"He's done a great job. The point of playing football is to win, so when your team's winning and you're the quarterback, you're doing your job," Brady told Gray. "I'm certainly proud of everything that he's accomplished. He was a really great guy for me to get to know and to see on a daily basis.

"I think the great thing to see if players who take advantage of their opportunity. He had an organization that put a lot on the line to get him, and he's taken advantage of that opportunity. I know he had a tough injury last year, but he showed a lot of mental toughness in coming back from a tough injury and is playing great football."

Garoppolo was drafted by the Patriots in 2014 and served as Brady's backup until he was traded to the 49ers in 2017. The Eastern Illinois product got the chance to showcase his talents in two starts during the 2016 season, going 2-0 with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Since then, the 28-year-old has overcome a devastating knee injury and become the leader of an NFC powerhouse that looks like it'll be in the mix for years to come. Not a bad deal for the man once thought of as Brady's potential successor.

As for Brady and the Patriots, they'll look to bounce back from their Week 10 loss to the Ravens on Sunday when they face off against the Eagles. If all goes according to plan, a February reunion for Brady and Garoppolo in Miami could be in the works.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Rob Gronkowski reunites with David Ortiz, calls him his 'new trainer'

Rob Gronkowski reunites with David Ortiz, calls him his 'new trainer'

Two of Boston's most beloved sports figures in the city's history did some reuniting on Monday.

Rob Gronkowski and David Ortiz joined forces for an Instagram video that certainly will add to the speculation about a possible comeback for the retired Patriots tight end.

“Big Papi’s my new trainer,” Gronkowski says in the video while flexing. “We are reunited.”

Watch below:

Don't get too excited though, Patriots fans. Gronk has pretty much already shut down the idea of a comeback this season and is preoccupied with some new television responsibilities. He has, however, left the door open to return to the gridiron one day.

If Gronk does decide to help out the Pats' current tight end situation, he has until Nov. 30 to make up his mind.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.