Good morning, here’s a look at today’s top stories.
Kraft: Meeting With Belichick and Brady “Has Happened” – One of the biggest storylines locally within the media recently has centered around what had been reported all year to be a bad situation within the confines of Gillette Stadium, with tensions said to be high between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It started with the revelations by the Boston Globe and ESPN during the season that the banning of Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero, from the facility reportedly ignited some ill-will between the two and created an uncomfortable situation among other players, which was heavily downplayed initially before the ESPN story revealed that things might have been a little worse than many had thought.
NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran, who is well-connected within Brady’s camp, has been one of the more vocal reporters on the topic and has provided plenty of insight into a situation that certainly appeared to be untenable. Curran had been saying for a while that things were bad enough where he believed it would require a meeting between Brady, Kraft and Belichick to clear the air in order to potentially be resolved.
Kraft announced to everyone on Monday that the meeting has happened.
“We’ve had the meeting,” Kraft told reporters on Monday. “And just to be clear … we have meetings all the time. We’re not a big, bureaucratic organization. We’re a private company. We don’t have boards we answer to. We answer to the fans the best we can.
“We met. And I meet individually with each of them. But the thing that I don’t know if it’s completely understood, but Bill and Tom communicate and meet a lot and spend a lot of time communicating. I think the residual of this loss was really hard on everyone. But I sort of see that as a high-class problem because I sat in the stands when we never were in the playoffs at home for 20-odd years.”
Whatever emotions there were behind closed doors never seemingly spilled onto the field, but February’s loss to the Eagles seemed to spark a lot of internal reflection on the part of a couple of players, most notably, on the part of Brady.
While Rob Gronkowski’s comments surrounding his potential retirement were surprising, it’s hard not to argue Brady’s revelation at the end of his “Tom vs Time” video weren’t more jarring given how confident he had seemed coming off a Super Bowl win in 2016. Following their historic win over Atlanta, Brady told Peter King that walking away at that point wouldn’t make much sense considering he “had the answers to the test” and he seemed as confident as ever about his ability to extend his career.
Instead, one year later, the loss saw him take a sharp turn away from his intentions of playing well into his 40s, with his wife Gisele also saying during the video that Brady just wants to “have fun” and be “appreciated”.
That’s lead many here locally to believe that Kraft needed to bring the two together in the room and iron out their differences. With that out of the way it seems like there’s still work to be done, and it’s unknown what lies ahead as his quarterback and coach continue preparing for the 2018 season.
Kraft didn’t elaborate further but he did show his continued support for the coach who has provided what will most certainly go down as one of the most incredible runs in franchise history. When asked about the Malcolm Butler benching, Kraft admits that while, as a fan, he sometimes questions the moves, he still trusts Belichick to follow his instincts and that won’t change.
“With my fan hat on, you can come up with all kinds of reasons or things,” Kraft said. “But here’s the deal: We in New England are privileged to, I believe, have the greatest coach in the history of coaching. … I have faith in Bill as a coach that I don’t think there’s anyone who has the football knowledge and expertise combined with understanding personnel, no one can merge those two worlds [better]. And he’s done pretty well for us over the last 18 years. So, as a fan, I can question some of the moves. As someone who’s privileged to be the owner of this team, I encourage him to keep going with his instincts and doing what he thinks is right.”
“There is no doubt in my mind, even if he made an error — and this is true with any of our managers — that if they’re doing it for the right reason, then I support it 100 percent. I’ve never had one instance in the 18 years where Bill hasn’t done what he believes is in the best interest of our team to help us win games.”
Belichick’s already excited about the upcoming year. (USA TODAY Images)
Belichick Enthusiastic About Upcoming Year – Belichick surprised everyone Sunday with an appearance outside at the Ritz Carlton, talking with reporters two days before today’s coaches’ breakfast, where he’s expected to speak with them again.
The veteran head coach reportedly “looked energized” and “sounded enthusiastic” about the upcoming season, even joking with media members before an impromptu interview.
“I know Tuesday is usually a little bit of a free-for-all, so I thought I’d take a couple of minutes and talk to everybody here. We can slug it out on Tuesday, too,” said Belichick via Mike Reiss of ESPN.
Coming off of their loss to the Eagles, Belichick didn’t waste much time before getting back to work and he’s been immersed over the last month, dealing with player moves while visiting multiple cities scouting draft prospects. It’s been a busy stretch, but Belichick admitted that, so far, while there have obviously been some changes, he’s enjoyed the process of putting the 2018 version of this team together.
“We had some players come, we had some players go — that’s the way it always is in free agency,” said Belichick. “We wish our players well that moved on, and we’re happy to acquire the ones that we acquired, whether it was free agency or the three trades we made. Obviously this is an exciting time of year as we go through the team-building process between free agency and in this case a couple trades; the draft process. We have a long way to go. We’re far from where we’re going to be.”
One interesting bit of information that came out of the interview was the story behind how Josh McDaniels remained in New England, which Belichick said stemmed from a conversation between the two after the Super Bowl was finally over.
“Once that game ended, I think that really gave Josh and I a chance to sit down [Tuesday] and talk more directly about the situation, as opposed to, ‘We really want to talk about the game and what we need to do to try to compete in that game.’ That’s basically what happened,” Belichick said Sunday via Mike Reiss. “Before the game, I’d say we had minimal discussions. I’d say we had much deeper and longer and more in-depth and more constructive discussions immediately after the game.”
The discussion seemed to cover a variety of topics and allowed them to “work some things out”, leaving Belichick happy at the opportunity to continue working with him.
“We got back from Minnesota, I had an opportunity to talk to Josh, and we were able to work some things out,” said Belichick. “I’m thrilled he’s still with us and is going to continue in his role. I think he’s a top offensive coordinator in the league. He’s done a great job for me for a long time in a lot of different roles.”
“I’m very glad, based on the meeting we had — there were a number of things that happened — that we were able to work that out and keep him with us.”
Kraft came through in a big way for families over the weekend. (USA TODAY Images)
SI Sheds Light into Touching Gesture By Patriots – After receiving a request from former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, to loan one of his planes to fly some of the victims and families from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, to Washington DC to the “March for Our Lives” protest, Robert Kraft not only agreed but, as usual, went above and beyond.
The Patriots owner not only provided the plane, but treated everyone on board to a first-class experience that included a touching gesture as they reached their seats.
According to SI.com, waiting for them in their seats was a a Patriots baseball cap but, more notably, a card with a touching message.
In the card Kraft wrote that “we have hurt for you, mourned with you and been inspired by you. It is an honor for us to now partner with you as you push for progress.”
When Parkland families boarded the Patriots team plane that would take them to D.C. for the #marchforourlives, they found a letter from Robert Kraft and a Patriots baseball hat waiting on their seats https://t.co/PCtCnpN8Xy pic.twitter.com/jDw2SOMN5Z
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) March 27, 2018
Kalyn Kahler penned a piece on SI.com, writing that for many the flight was a nice escape for each of the passengers who were all dealing with their own unique and difficult experience.
Kahler wrote that even with around 100 people on board, the size of the plane made it feel empty. That apparently allowed quiet and the “silence” that, sadly, was one of the things that, coupled with the terrific food and treatment by the staff, was considered by several to be a bright spot.
Either way, it’s an experience that they’ll never forget and credit Kraft for taking the extra steps to make it far more than it could have been. It’s one of those stories that was in the news over the weekend, but the detailed account of that experience is definitely a reminder that Kraft has always been someone whose heart remains in the right place, and kudos to him for providing an escape and support for a group that definitely needed it.
Coaching Breakfast On Tap – After speaking to reporters Sunday, we’ll likely hear more from him as Belichick is expected to be on hand for the coach’s breakfast this morning after missing it last year.
Belichick, who also skipped the annual coaches photo in 2017, instead, opted to spend his time at Florida’s Pro Day, not missing a beat despite coming off of winning another Super Bowl a little over a month earlier.
Jeff Howe, who famously snapped one of the most shared images on the internet lamented Belichick’s absence:
What could have been… pic.twitter.com/odFzPO2WIW
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) March 28, 2017
Belichick later arrived at the meetings, wearing khaki shorts and sandals as he stopped and talked to Roger Goodell.
— Lorenzo Reyes (@LorenzoGReyes) March 27, 2017
The last time Belichick took part in the annual coaching photo was back in 2015.
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) March 23, 2015
As far as what will be the important topics of conversation this week, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston writes that trying to get answers from agent Drew Rosenhaus about Rob Gronkowski’s future and whether or not it’s odd that the league has had a “glut of Patriots-related/prompted rules changes” in recent years.
It should make for an interesting few days and we’ll do our best to have all the details here each morning throughout the rest of the week.
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