Give Bill Belichick credit. He says it’s all about business and doing what’s best for the football team? Nothing personal?
He just showed it by agreeing to deal prodigal tight end Rob Gronkowski to the Buccaneers.
Belichick could have been petty as a motherscratcher if he so chose.
“Tender Tom didn’t feel appreciated? Boo hoo. Gwonky Gwonk not getting a chance to have fun? Poor thing. Now I’m supposed to let them have a reunion in the American Tropics where they can do their rubber band workouts, play on a Slip ‘n Slide and complain about the mean little Croatian man? Are you out of your motherflippin’ mind?”
Nope. Belichick was as good as his word in this instance.
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The Patriots are getting something in exchange for an item they weren’t using — that they COULDN’T use — which is better than stubbornly squatting on it, isn’t it? I mean, that’s just smart business right?
Besides, how much damage can a 43-year-old quarterback and a broken-down tight end who was away from the game for a year do anyway? Especially with both of them all hepped up on nothing but Chia Seeds.
Was a fourth-round pick enough? That’s the inevitable question.
And I get it. Why not hold out for O.J. Howard? Unless you think O.J. Howard is trash and you don’t want the final two years of his contract.
Or you think that whole decade where your offense relied on the tight end position won’t work anymore. Then why would you want O.J. Howard? Or Gronk, for that matter. Maybe that explains in part why the Patriots were ready to trade Gronk to the Lions before the 2019 season. He’d outlived his usefulness to them? I would disagree, but they continue to do zero at the position, so …
But the biggest takeaway I have from this is that Belichick — by all appearances — moved quickly on this. I mean, if he held it up and refused to make a deal, the national blowback about him being a meanie would have been significant. That wouldn’t have bothered him. But ceaseless conversation about Gronk, Brady, the Bucs, etc. would have so he just lanced the boil.
Now, what’s this mean for the Bucs? Very, very, very good things. They have two of the best receivers in the NFL and have added a player who began 2018 as a beast, got hurt, healed and finished 2018 as a beast with a Super Bowl ring.
Now he’s 30 and coming off a year in which his body had a chance to heal. I don’t know if he’ll be better than Kelce, Kittle and Ertz. I do know the combo of him with Brady is still going to be equal to the other three.
Plus, the rest of the Tampa Bay offense just got that much tougher to deal with. The hardest thing about Brady’s transition to Tampa was going to be familiarity with the receivers.
I still remember Brady talking about his on-field relationship with Gronk and saying that he could tell what Gronk was going to do when he was running at full speed away from him based on subtle things like the length of his stride or the dip of his shoulders. Brady could read Gronk’s mind based on how he moved. You know how long it takes to get to that point? Of course you do. You like sports. It takes a few minutes.
Now Brady has that with him in Tampa. And that’s a problem for the NFC. But it’s a problem that wouldn’t have come to pass unless Bill Belichick refused to make it personal.
He kept it consistent. He kept it about business.
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