New England Patriots

Jeff Howe of The Athletic talked all things Patriots with Toucher & Rich on Tuesday. Chief among the topics was, of course, Tom Brady’s absence from Patriots OTAs and the continued behind-the-scenes drama that has dominated much of the media conversations surrounding the team.

Howe understands that fans are “exhausted” by the topic, but acknowledged that “until [Brady] shows up, it’s gonna continue to be something we need to cover.”

Despite Brady’s self-inflicted scrutiny, Howe believes that much of the reporting on the tension in Foxboro has been exaggerated. He also tends to think that, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Seth Wickersham’s controversial – and partially inaccurate – ESPN story took a smoldering fire and dumped unnecessary fuel on it.

“When that ESPN story came out, you had people down at Gillette saying ‘Well, who was the source?'” Said Howe. “And you have people start to look over their shoulders. So maybe the drama was overblown up until that point, and then that story – probably, from my impressions – reignited some of it. Or at least had it turned in a different type of direction.”

Tom Brady confers with Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick during a game with the Washington Redskins on Nov. 8, 2015. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady confers with Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick during a game with the Washington Redskins on Nov. 8, 2015. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Howe, who recently had Patriots owner Robert Kraft go on the record for a two-part interview, gets the sense that the lack of direct sourcing and accuracy in stories like Wickersham’s have contributed to the anger and unrest among Patriots fans.

“People would prefer to talk about football over the drama,” said Howe. “And usually the drama type of stories … unless it’s directly sourced, or somebody puts an actual name behind what they’re saying, it’s like, ‘What do you want to believe?’

“Even when this story was originally reported, there were some inaccuracies with it. Not to rehash stuff thats six months old at this point or anything like that, but it’s hard to find out exactly where the truth is. There’s been a lot of great reporting along the way, but some of it … it’s almost the element of beating a dead horse.”

Howe also talks about Rob Gronkowski and his contract situation, and speculated on what exactly Brady wants in order to make things right between him and the Patriots. Listen above for the full interview!