Brady and Belichick Offered Up the Perfect Explanation of Why They Were So Impossibly Successful Together
As the media landscape that increasingly gets taken over by podcasts, it's rare that you come across an episode of one that truly stands out. It's largely a disposable medium. Once the conversation is over, you rarely if ever go back and give it a re-listen. I probably spend more time on podcasts than 90 percent of the public - at the gym in the morning, long car rides, doing work around the house, when my loved ones are trying to talk to me - and the number of times I've circled back an listened a second time I could probably count on my hands without using my thumbs.
But this episode of Tom Brady's pod, talking to Bill Belichick is the exception:
The gift that will keep on giving. Now, and as a historical record for future generations to study.
Because this isn't just two celebrities playing grabass or some wine moms reading through the details of some true crime drama. This is like having a recording of Socrates teaching Plato. It's Adams and Jefferson talking about how they created a nation. Churchill and FDR figuring out how they defeated the Nazis. The two best ever in their chosen field, opening up about how they collaborated together to build an empire. This thing needs to be saved on hard copies. Some to be kept in the National Archives, and some stored in the underground bunker where we put things we need to survive a nuclear armageddon.
And after further review, perhaps the best part - after Belichick making Brady cry manly tears - is this description of their daily interactions over their 20 years of harvesting souls together:
NFL.com - "We had a really good relationship, especially in the film room and talking football and all that," Belichick said. "That I'll always treasure and I learned so much from. Because nobody sees the game better than Tom Brady sees it or saw it, and I was so lucky to learn from him and his vision.
"No other coach will get that experience. I mean, it was incredible."
Rarely do you hear Belichick this unfiltered. …
"Tom talks about how much I taught him in those meetings, but I learned so much from Tom," Belichick explained, "…[I]t was incredible how during the game he'd come off and I'd say, 'What happened on that play?' and he'd go through eight things that happened. 'The tackle flashed in front of me. This guy slipped. I saw the linebacker drop wide. The safety was a little deeper than I thought he would be. Then this guy stepped in front, and I kind of put it a little bit behind him because I saw this other guy closing.' And then you would go back and look at the film, and every one of those things happened in the exact sequence that he explained it to you on the field coming off. I'm like, 'This guy sees everything.' …
Belichick also said that Brady invited hard coaching and wanted to be ripped in meetings so that he could improve and be pushed to greatness and also so that his Patriots teammates could see he wasn't receiving special treatment from Belichick.
WEEI - “That was as much a part of Tom as it was a part of me. There were a couple of meetings where I would say something to Tom after the meeting, ‘Hey, I didn’t really think that was that bad, but I just wanted to include you with everybody else,’” said Belichick. “Tom would say, ‘Coach, you have to. If you don’t yell at me, then what am I gonna do with all the rest of my teammates? I’ve got to be there with all the rest of them and say, ‘Hey, he’s yelling at all of us, and we’ve all got to do better. But if you leave me out of it, then I don’t really have a platform to work from. So go ahead, rip my ass, too.” …
"I got the green light on that, and I went ahead and took it. Players always come back to me and say, ‘Hey, the first meeting, Belichick got on Brady. I’m like, Christ, if he’s going to talk to Brady like that, I better be straight. I know what’s going to happen to me,’” said Belichick. “Tom’s acceptance of that, and also then his ability to lead his teammates by putting himself in the same boat with everybody else like, ‘We’ve all got to do a better job. He’s after me, just like he’s after everybody else. Let’s go.’ That’s a tremendous platform to lead from, and Tom recognized that. Yeah, was he our best player? Did he make the fewest mistakes out there and all of that? Yeah, but everybody can do better, every coach, every player, no matter how great they are. If you’re really looking to strive for perfection, then we all want that. I want to be a better coach, Tom wants to be a better player, and so does everybody else. …
“Where I got that from was [Bobby] Knight, because Coach Knight told me that’s what he did with Michael Jordan on the Olympic team,” said Belichick. “He said, ‘You know Michael, I’m going to rip your ass, because I can’t rip some of these other guys without ripping you, and Jordan said, ‘Hey, bring it on. I need that, and that will help me with my teammates.’ It was kind of a similar thing with Tom. He told me he appreciated it. I don’t know if that’s really true or not, but he told me he appreciated it.”
Here's that dynamic explained in a slightly different way, with more dick references, by LeGarrette Blount:
. It's funny because we've heard this before. From veterans who had been around the league some, roster bubble guys, and rookies who had no idea what to expect. And they'd sit in a meeting listening to Belichick tear Brady a new butthole in front of the entire team in total disbelief because they'd never heard a superstar get that kind of treatment. Nowhere close. And the message was both loud and clear and twofold. One, this Dynasty was built on having no sacred cows. In fact, they make the best hamburgers. And two, Everyone is held to a high standard, so you'd better get your shit straightened out immediately and buy into the program because you'll be next.
We heard more and more over Brady's last few years in New England that he was getting worn out by all the tough coaching. Like that ludicrous ESPN piece about how he resented the fact he never received the Patriot of the Week Award, which never existed. And how he demanded to be addressed around the facilities as "Mr. Brady." Or the reports that Gisele went to ownership to complain about it, like a soccer mom showing up to league to complain about the way her boy is being pushed too hard. Here's what I said about that just before the 2020 season:
Two things I can't picture is Brady being bothered about the way Belichick coached him or going over his head to RKK. First, because he's a battler and always was. Brady is a horse who likes to be ridden hard. He was always a hyper-competitive rage monster, motivated by an insatiable appetite for destroying the opposition, not having his ego stroked. … I cannot imagine why suddenly that would reverse as he approached 40. Men don't change who they are on a fundamental level like that.
Right again, Old Balls. I'll let you know if this ever gets tired.
And yet here we are in 2023, hearing it first hand from the only two men capable of having an intelligent conversation about their own relationship. They understand how unique it was. How mutually respectful it was. And how everything they did in their interactions over two decades was for one, singular purpose: To make themselves and everyone around them better at winning.
I think it's fair to say it worked.
Now let's just please find a way to get these two to keep talking. It'll never be too much.