Within the past few weeks, reports have come out on the tensions surrounding the New England Patriots, the NFL’s most consistent, successful franchise this century. Headlines swirled around the head coach, Bill Belichick, starting quarterback Tom Brady, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Both Brady and Gronk have not reported to the team’s offseason training programs. Brady seeks out a new contract confirming that he will play next season. Gronkowski, meanwhile, is torn between whether he will play or retire. Belichick is taking a lot of heat for benching then New England cornerback Malcolm Butler at the start of Super Bowl 52. Butler signed with the Tennessee Titans earlier in the offseason.
According to NESN.com, as well as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Brady and Gronk are sitting out of organized team activities because of contract issues. Gronkowski, in a recent press conference, said he isn’t going to be at these OTAs because he says he wants to work on his dirt bike skills. Is the tight end making a point here? Oh, yeah.
Since taking over in 2000, Belichick has led New England to five Super Bowl championships, tied with the Steelers for most all time. He is best known for his short, unenthusiastic press conferences (e.g. “We’re on to Cincinnati” in 2014 after a 41-14 beatdown at the hands of the Chiefs). Yet, he and the owner, Robert Kraft, have disagreed on how the quarterback situation will play out soon. Belichick wanted to keep Garoppolo as the heir apparent to sure bet first ballot Hall of Famer Brady. Kraft, on the contrary, wants to keep number 12 in Foxborough for a few more years. More drama!
While the Patriots dynasty has not yet fallen completely, it appears that Belichick is determined to make it self-destruct. His team has lost several key players to free agency and he still must draft players that will fit into his defensive plan. At some point, Tom Brady will get sick and tired of being stuck in the middle of front office-coaching feuds, and like many other 40-year old quarterbacks nearing the end of their career, will end up playing elsewhere. San Francisco? Denver? Who knows! Still, Belichick while he may oversee drafting/acquiring talent and calling plays on the sideline, he is one unwise decision away from both being fired and blowing up a proud, glorified, and hated NFL franchise.