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Tom Brady Opens Up About Why He Left NE, and it Sounds Like Things Were Even Worse Than We All Thought

I posted about this Apple+ docuseries The Dynasty when the trailer first dropped. And unless I was too many IPAs and air-fried wings into my day Sunday, they ran it during the Super Bowl. And my reaction was the same both times. Which is:

A) I'm looking forward to watching when it premieres Friday. 

II) How can a series that gives us a behind the scenes look into the greatest run of success by a sports franchise since the 1960s Celtics have such a grim, ominous, negative tone? It feels like it's all about the end of the era, the various -Gates, Aaron Hernandez and so on.

Seriously, this comes off like it's about a company that dumped toxic waste into a town's water supply and produced a generation of mutant babies and three-headed animals.  I mean, there were some good times mixed into those 20 years, correct? Or did I just imagine all the winning and parades and such? I'll be curious to see if these somber interviews with Mr. Kraft and Bill Belichick reflect the mood of all 10 episodes, or if this is just how Apple has chosen to market the thing. Either way, it's a weird editorial decision. 

And based on this one review in The Athletic by Chad Graff, who's seen the entire series,it sounds like they're very much leaning into the breakup between Belichick and Tom Brady. And that things between them were worse than even the worst reports:

Source - Brady makes clear his departure had more to do with who was coaching the team than the amount of money he was offered.

“Me and coach Belichick, we did what we loved and competed for 20 years together,” Brady said. “But I wasn’t going to sign another contract (in New England) even if I wanted to play until (I was) 50. Based on how things had gone, I wasn’t going to sign up for more of it.” ...

[T]he documentary feels like a referendum on how bad the Brady-Belichick relationship got and why it never had a storybook ending with the two riding off together into the sunset. ...  [T]he subjects in it — including Brady, Belichick, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and nearly every well-known Patriots player over the last two decades (except, notably, Jerod Mayo) — speak openly about the all-encompassing, dictatorial style with which Belichick ran the Patriots. 

Players, including several still on the roster, disclose just how difficult it was playing for Belichick. “It was brutal,” Matthew Slater said. Rob Gronkowski described pulling up to 1 Patriot Place and not wanting to get out of his car to go into work. Wes Welker compared Brady to an abused dog for continually going back to work for Belichick.

Great googily moogily. 

The narrative we've always been fed is that in 2019, Belichick and Brady were negotiating a new contract. GM Bill thought it was a bad investment to guaranteed two years to a 42 year old quarterback, so he offered one year with a club option. Brady signed it under the condition Belichick agrees not to franchise him. Thus making the Braxit that came on St. Patrick's Day, 2020 at precisely 8:30am all but assured. So that, while there was no doubt some bitterness over how it went down, it was essentially a business decision. 

But now we know better. Not from anonymous sources with their own agenda. But straight from the GOAT's mouth. 

And it makes sense. Belichick never hid the fact that playing for him is not for everybody. In fact, he embraced it. It was a vital part of his management style. He ran the tightest of ships, did things according to regulations, worked his men hard, and in doing so, got more out of them would've ever been possible with any other approach. 

But that kind of hard, inflexible leadership typically has it's limits. You can only drive men so hard for so long. The whole history of warfare and military fiction is full of commanding officers who eventually faced mutiny in the ranks. From Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty to Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide. I guess that from listening to Matthew Slater of all people - a team captain and certified Coach's Pet who played more games in franchise history than anyone but Brady - as well as Gronk and Welker describe how hard that approach was on them, is just further proof we were lucky to have had Belichick's reign of terror last for so long. 

I guess we can credit Brady for much of that. As long as he was willing to put up with the daily abuse, it was hard for anyone to break ranks and complain. Once he had had enough, things started to fall apart. Until eventually, four seasons later, a change had to be made. 

Anyway, I'm still not super excited about the sullen tone of this series. But I can't argue it won't be fascinating to finally hear people describe what's been going on inside the walls all these years without fear of reprisals. Getcha popcorn ready for Friday.