New England Patriots

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 celebrate after winning 34-28 over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s relationship will always be at the forefront of their split in New England. Many stories have already been written and many more will, perhaps even a whole book, about the stress fractures in their 20-year partnership that led to Brady’s ultimate departure.

But the reality is, the two worked together for such a long time and had so much success that any wounds between them will heal over time. And the damage already done probably isn’t as grisly as some may want you to believe. Their differences have been over-dramatized and will continue to be so.

There’s enough evidence of that in Brady’s comments about Belichick in a fascinating interview with Howard Stern on Wednesday. As part of the two-hour call, he detailed the final phone conversation he had with Belichick as his head coach. Brady confirmed that it took place at the same time he was at Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s home to say goodbye.

Why just a phone call to Belichick? Why not drive to his house and tell him in person? There’s actually a reasonable explanation for that.

“I wanted to tell him right away, you know, in the moment,” Brady said. “Too many times in this world, I would say something and someone else would say it and, before you know it, he would hear it from someone else. I wanted him to hear it from me.”

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots stands on the field with head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots prior to playing against the Houston Texans during the 2013 AFC Divisional Playoffs game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots stands on the field with head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots prior to playing against the Houston Texans during the 2013 AFC Divisional Playoffs game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Brady also denied what may be a popular sentiment now and moving forward: he is “absolutely not” harboring any resentment for Belichick for moving on from him and preparing for the next era at quarterback, which ostensibly started in 2019 with Jarrett Stidham. Maybe he felt that way when the Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, but not now.

We can offer our takes on the situation all we want, but Brady knows where he and Belichick stand with each other far better than we do. And it sounds like we were mostly off-base.

“He and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody has ever been privy to, nor should they be, that so many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship or about how he felt about me,” said Brady. “I know genuinely how he feels about me. I’m not going to respond to every rumor or assumption that’s made, other than what his responsibility as coach is to get the best player for the team, not only in the short term but in the long term as well.

“So what I could control is trying to be the best I could be in both of those situations. I got into uncharted territory as an athlete because I started to break the mold of what so many other athletes had experienced, so I got to the point where I was an older athlete and he’s starting to plan for the future, which is what his responsibility is. I don’t fault him for that. That’s what he should be doing. Not that I would ever coach, but if I was ever in a position of authority, I would understand that too.”

Dec 23, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick head out onto the field to shake hands with the Buffalo Bills after their 24-12 win at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Dec 23, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick head out onto the field to shake hands with the Buffalo Bills after their 24-12 win at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Unfortunately, the Patriots didn’t get nearly the best out of the offense in 2019. The season turned out to be perhaps the bridge year from Brady to Stidham, who is reportedly the leader in the clubhouse to start at QB for the Patriots in 2020. But Brady felt the end was coming all along and he strongly implies that Belichick was preparing for the same thing.

And when it was over, Brady wanted Belichick to hear it from him and not us, and for good reason.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.