It appears trouble was brewing on the Patriots long before Tom Brady decided to leave New England for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Things seemingly began to sour around 2017 after the Patriots’ victory over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. New England had just completed the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all-time against the Atlanta — erasing a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to claim victory in overtime — and Brady appeared to be on top of his game.
But things on the Pats still weren’t all hunky-dory. Brady, who was seeking an extension at the time, and head coach Bill Belichick reportedly had a “blowup” over Brady’s contract situation in late 2017, shortly before the Patriots’ appearance in Super Bowl LII in Feb. 2018. Brady also appeared to be battling the team over his “TB12” method and the impact his trainer and friend, Alex Guererro, was having on the team.
Things didn’t go the Patriots’ way in the Super Bowl, either. Playing without cornerback Malcolm Butler, New England could not stop the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense and fell 41-33. The loss, and the circumstances surrounding it, made Brady one unhappy camper, according to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
Here’s what happened next, per Wickersham:
After the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, Brady was deeply dissatisfied. The offense had put up 613 yards with no punts. When Belichick addressed the team upon its return to Foxborough, Brady mostly stared straight down, barely glancing up at his coach. Brady told people in the building that he wasn’t coming back. Needing distance, he detached from the team that spring. He left passive-aggressive comments on social media. He pleaded the fifth. He looked lost at the end of his Facebook docuseries, “Tom vs. Time,” saying of his passion, “What are we doing this for? … You gotta have answers to those questions.” ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, in his book “Belichick,” reported that Brady wanted a “divorce” from his coach. And Brady made it clear to author Mark Leibovich in the book “Big Game” that he was fed up with Belichick’s culture, which is to say that he was fed up with Belichick. When asked in Leibovich’s book how he would feel if the Patriots released him, Brady was blunt: “They can do whatever they want.”
This certainly isn’t the way Patriots fans hoped Brady’s tenure in New England would end.