There’s no way that Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft all emerge unscathed from Seth Wickersham’s new book. In fact, it might get ugly for each member of the NFL’s (fractured) holy trinity.
However, Round 1 saw Belichick take an absolute beating.
Wickersham’s highly anticipated book, “It’s Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness,” officially hits shelves Oct. 12. Ahead of the book’s release, one popular theory has taken hold: new information, supplied by people on Belichick’s side, will put Brady in an especially bad light.
The evidence is entirely circumstantial but nonetheless compelling. A few weeks ago, the 44-year-old quarterback posted a vague Instagram story about eliminating toxic people from one’s life and surrounding oneself with friends they can trust. More recently, he posted a photo with Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians captioned, “I got your back, and you got mine.” Then his father, Tom Brady Sr., and trainer, Alex Guerrero, both publicly criticized Belichick ahead of New England’s Week 4 matchup with the Bucs. Remember: Wickersham, among the most respected investigative sports reporters in the business, in 2018 dropped his infamous Patriots column that essentially was a Brady hit piece.
Add all that together, and it’s hard to not wonder whether Brady was firing preemptive strikes, attempting to establish an anti-Belichick narrative ahead of the book’s release. Again, it’s conspiracy theory stuff.
And the book indeed might offer damning intel on Brady. Some reporters already have gotten their copies, so expect more headlines in the coming days.
But Wednesday morning, somewhat out of nowhere, ESPN shared a roughly 1,900-word preview about the book, accompanied by podcasts and “SportsCenter” hits featuring Wickersham. And nearly all of it was rough for Belichick.
Among the many tidbits, we got these reported insights:
— Belichick’s treatment of Brady was the primary reason for the quarterback’s departure.
— Belichick refused to meet Brady in person to say goodbye.
— It got so bad that Brady once considered forcing a trade to Los Angeles.
— Kraft referred to Belichick as the “biggest a–hole” in his life as well as an “idiot savant.”
— Patriots players mulled a boycott after Belichick supported Donald Trump in 2016.
— Belichick was buddy-buddy with Roger Goodell amid the Deflategate investigation.
— Kraft and Brady pondered life without Belichick, with Bill O’Brien a possible replacement.
— Eric Mangini wanted to get into a fistfight with Belichick after the Spygate scandal.
Honestly, the most flattering detail about Belichick is longtime NFL head coach Mike Shanahan basically wishing he were as good at cheating as The Hoodie.
Meanwhile, Kraft is described as an “idealistic and patient leader and loyal friend.” Brady is revealed to have been uncomfortable upon his rise to superstardom, and someone who works best in a loving, supportive environment. Belichick? A cold-hearted grump who ticked off his owner and forced the greatest quarterback in history out the door.
(Belichick on Wednesday denied the reporting, and even took a shot at Wickersham’s book.)
This battle isn’t over, and by the end of it, Brady likely will show his fair share of bruises. Wickersham has been covering the Patriots since Brady first arrived in Foxboro, Mass., and knows a lot about the future Hall of Famer.
But the first blow was a haymaker to Belichick, who now is back in his corner, gasping for air.