In a strange coincidence, Tom Junod and Seth Wickersham’s piece for ESPN The Magazine on Tom Brady’s remarkable longevity was published just before the New England Patriots parted ways with the veteran quarterback’s understudy.
The Patriots on Monday traded backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 second-round draft pick, leaving the 40-year-old Brady as the only QB on New England’s roster.
The stunning move, which came on the eve of the NFL trade deadline, added a new layer of intrigue to Junod and Wickersham’s deep dive into Brady’s famed TB12 Method.
In one of the more revealing passages, an unnamed friend of Bill Belichick’s predicts a “collision coming” between the longtime head coach and Brady’s trainer/business partner, Alex Guerrero (emphasis ours):
For the short term, Brady will find himself in the position of being the future of the Patriots — with no end in sight. The Garoppolo trade can be seen as an expression of faith not only in Brady, but also in the TB12 Method. The apparent vote of confidence comes even as Brady has found himself in the middle of a conflict between the Patriots and Guerrero, with Guerrero blaming the team’s trainers for injuries some of his clients have suffered and with Belichick making it resoundingly clear that Guerrero has no actual role on his staff. “There’s a collision coming,” a friend of Belichick’s says, and even without Garoppolo itching to supplant him, Brady is aware of the competing legacies at the heart of the Patriots’ historic success. He says now that he “hopes” he doesn’t play for anyone else, but “I’m also not naive to think I can’t.”
Another passage indicated those close to Belichick believe he will coach for another two to three seasons, and that he had expressed a desire to coach Garoppolo as a starter. Obviously, that no longer will be possible, with Belichick explaining Tuesday morning that keeping both Brady and Garoppolo no longer was a feasible option.
Belichick is seeking to secure an immortality of his own. No one knows how much longer he’ll coach, but his friends give him two or three more years, enough to ensure that his two sons, Stephen and Brian, both Patriots assistants, are secure, and possibly long enough to establish a truly dynastic succession. He’d told friends for the past year that he wanted to coach Garoppolo as a starter and that he was confident he could win a Super Bowl with him. That, of course, would have required him to decouple himself from the player who has changed his life and his legacy, and so the question always was: Would he do it? Would he actually move on from TB12?
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