Bill Belichick is on an island right now, it seems.
The New England Patriots head coach returned to work Tuesday, grumbling through his OTA press conference by predictably swatting away any and all questions about the absences of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, however, had no problem commenting on Brady’s absence Wednesday morning, defending the quarterback’s right to skip the practices. Kraft publicly backed Brady, assuring everyone the quarterback would be there when the practices become mandatory and that all is hunky-dory in Patriots land among owner, coach and quarterback — despite four months of reports to the contrary.
Kraft could have stopped there, and no one would think twice about what he said. But he continued. These are optional workouts, after all, and Brady — well, he’s a busy guy with a family.
“I was thinking back to when he joined us, where he’s blessed to have three children now and he’s built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities,” Kraft said, via The Boston Globe. “I think it’s very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment that he has to football.”
Never mind being on the same page. Kraft and Belichick aren’t even reading out of the same book right now. We’re fairly certain Brady isn’t the only Patriots player with kids and business interests. And while OTAs are optional, Kraft endorsing Brady’s ability to skip them directly contradicts the principles on which Belichick has built a winning environment in Foxboro. No one is bigger than the team, even Brady.
Brady, a five-time Super Bowl winner and legendary quarterback, certainly has earned his share of rope from the organization. The Kraft family has bent over backward to appease the future Hall of Famer, as evidenced by the very valuable piece of real estate at Patriot Place occupied by Brady and his business partner, Alex Guerrero.
Brady skipping OTAs, in a vacuum, isn’t a huge deal — despite it contradicting things he said in the past. By publicly backing Brady the way he did, however, Kraft tipped his hand as to where his allegiances are right now. The lingering tension between Brady and Belichick has put Kraft in an unenviable position, but he continues to make it clear with whom he sides, and that’s Brady. He sided with Brady when he reportedly insisted Belichick trade Jimmy Garoppolo, and he sided with Brady again Wednesday when he publicly defended the QB’s absence.
If you’re ready for the Patriots drama to die, we regret to inform you Kraft did little to silence the naysayers. If anything, he just fanned the flames — and did little to help his head coach in the process.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images