The winning Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are that rare thing: a duo that recognizes what each of them brings to the table. They don’t get in each other’s way, don’t resent each other — and use their individual strengths to carve out a path heretofore unseen and one we may never quite see again, especially after Sunday night’s spectacular win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl — the pair’s seventh Super Bowl together.
Their head coach-quarterback combination essentially began 17 years ago, when Belichick was hired as the New England Patriots head coach on Jan. 27, 2000. Shortly after, that same year, on April 16 — which happens to be Belichick’s birthday — the Patriots selected Brady 199th overall in the NFL Draft.
Their head coach-quarterback combination essentially began 17 years ago, when Belichick was hired as the New England Patriots head coach on Jan. 27, 2000.
The two men continue to defy traditional expiration dates like no duo in NFL history. It was seven seasons ago, after an ugly home playoff loss to Baltimore, that sportswriters had the audacity to begin penning pieces asking the question: Is this the end of the Patriots’ dynasty? It was five seasons ago that the team lost to the Giants again, a defeat that stayed with Brady in an uncharacteristic way — he was visibly shaken in the locker room after his seemingly last, best chance at another championship was gone.
Yet New England has reached the AFC Championship Game every season since. On Sunday, the unflappable Brady played at a higher level at age 39 than 34, with Belichick delivering a top-ranked scoring defense despite having far less talent than on previous teams.
How rarified is the air? Having now won this fifth Super Bowl together, Belichick and Brady have surpassed another legendary head coach-quarterback duo: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll and quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Belichick, 64, has coached in the NFL for 42 years. Brady is the longest tenured Patriots player, tied with John Brodie (of San Francisco) and Dan Marino (of Miami). Would either sink like a stone without the other? We will probably never know.
There are haters, of course. And the latest reason to hate on Brady? His relationship with Donald Trump. To what extent are they friends? When Brady was spotted with that “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker, does that mean he voted for Trump? Does it even matter? To some, sadly, yes.
Earlier this week, a veteran USA Today sportswriter demanded in an opinion piece that Brady answer any and all questions en route to the showdown in Houston about his relationship with President Trump — ultimately deciding he had to “disavow” him.
This, of course, is preposterous. He doesn’t have to do any such thing. No one does. Besides, we have seen in the past that Tom Brady doesn’t answer any questions he doesn’t want to answer.
That hasn’t stopped the backlash, though. A recent headline in The Washington Post read: “Rooting for Tom Brady Used to be Easy. Until Donald Trump Came Along.” Bill Maher went after the Patriots as well for their ties to Donald Trump in a rant on the Friday edition of his show: “The Falcons are playing a team where the owner, the coach and the star quarterback all love Donald Trump. So I’d really like for them to lose by a score of a million f***ing thousand to none.”
Later in the show, Maher had a specific message for Brady: “Hey Tom, f– you! You’re a great quarterback and your political instincts suck.” None of this, of course, has fazed Brady, Belichick, or the Patriots in any public way. They’re going to the Super Bowl, after all.
In a recent interview with The New York Times Magazine, Trump finally talked about Brady, Belichick and even team owner Robert Kraft. He said he was “disgusted” by the “ridiculous” treatment of his “good friend” Brady in reference to the debacle known as “DeflateGate.”
“He calls me Mr. Trump,” Trump explained. “Which he shouldn’t, because we play golf all the time.”
Trump then described a recent meeting with Belichick while at a Patriots game last season: “(Belichick) hugs me, and he kisses me, and he said: ‘I love you. You’re the greatest.’”
Trump told the magazine he even advised Kraft during DeflateGate, telling him not to accept Roger Goodell’s punishments. He added that the commissioner is “a weak guy” and a “dope.”
“Bob Kraft is also one of my best friends,” Trump pointed out.
Brady and Belichick have long been winners in America’s favorite sport. They don’t care when they go against the grain and they certainly don’t care when something they do offends others. Right now, many are losing their minds over the duo’s support of the commander-in-chief — and demand answers.
Think Brady and Belichick care about this? Probably not — especially after winning the most important football game of the year on Sunday night.
This article has been updated.