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Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks the field during warm-ups as quarterback Tom Brady (12) stands in the background before Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Q: Did you guys have a desire to bring Tom Brady back this coming season?

A: Yeah, that’s water under the bridge, Mike. Like I said, we’re really focused on this season and trying to look at our opportunities and make decisions and plan and prepare to be as competitive as we can be this year. So, that’s really what our focus is on.

Q: Did it surprise you at all, him leaving?

BB: Again, I think we’ve covered all that.

– Exchange Monday between Bill Belichick and NFL Network reporter Mike Giardi


So let me get this straight: Bill Belichick trades away Jimmy Garoppolo and he sounds like Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. But when the greatest player in the history of the NFL leaves the Patriots via free agency, Belichick turns into Stonewall Jackson.


What a hypocritical, disingenuous, manipulative coward.

In case you missed it, for the first time since the Patriots and Brady parted ways, Belichick addressed the media yesterday in what was scheduled as a pre-draft teleconference. Belichick issued a quick opening statement that included the following remarks on Brady, comments akin to what he issued in a written statement last week.

At the start of free agency, I made a statement about Tom [Brady]. It would be of course impossible to sum up everything that Tom did in 20 years into a comment, then or now, but I meant everything I said about him and I’m sure we’ll be talking about him for years and decades to come.

That was it. Then Giardi tried to engage Belichick in the exchange above, and Stonewall switched into autopilot. You know, we’re onto to Cincinnati.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks with Tom Brady #12 before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks with Tom Brady #12 before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Surprised? Hell no. How could you be? If nothing else during this great era in Patriots history – or, for that matter, Boston sports history – Belichick has been one of the great constants. He is who he is, at least when it comes to running the Patriots. Bill makes the rules, even if he doesn’t play by them. And everybody else is expected to fall into line and, for lack of a better term, Belichick their egos at the door.

But Bill? Please. He hasn’t exactly practiced what he’s preached. Players are accountable, for sure, but the coach isn’t. Players are expected to take less, but the coach isn’t. And when it comes to answer the questions he wants to answer, well, Bill picks and chooses because the even the rules of professionalism and common decency simply do not apply.

Case in point: Jimmy Garoppolo, otherwise known as the teacher’s pet, one of the initial points of contention that served as a wedge between Belichick and Brady. Belichick wanted Jimmy. He loved Jimmy. And when he was forced to trade away Garoppolo, Belichick began a teleconference with this answer – unprompted – which was generally out of character.

We’ve completed the trade papers with San Francisco, so I’ll just make a couple of comments on this situation. First of all, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy. I couldn’t ask for him to give us any more than he’s given us. The 49ers are getting a good player, and they’re getting a good person, and they’re getting a great teammate and they’re getting a good quarterback. Jimmy is getting a good coach. His career is moving forward. He’s a talented individual, was a great person to coach. I met with him weekly and, again, have a tremendous amount of respect for him. As his career moves forward we have to look to our team, both this year and beyond, and that’s a consideration we have to make. We probably had, in my opinion, the best quarterback situation in the league for the last – let’s call it two-and-a-half years – it’s just not sustainable given the way that things are set up. It’s definitely not something that we wanted to walk away from and I felt like we rode it out as long as we could. We over a period of time explored every option possible to try to sustain it, but just at this point felt like we had to make a decision. It’s a very complex situation on multiple levels and this is really the last window that we had and we did what we felt was best for the team. There were many things involved in this whole process and, again, on a number of levels; way too many to get into at this time. I’m definitely not going to get into any conversations that took place regarding the trade or with the player, but this is a decision involving Jimmy; in some form a decision that’s been looming for the last couple of years. I’m sure a lot of you have questions that are fair but, again, to try and put the whole puzzle together and there are so many different points in time that would and could change the entire conversation that it’s just too complicated of a process and too unique to get into in depth. So, I’m not going to answer questions about the transaction and all of the follow ups that would be coming with those, which are fair questions, but it’s just not possible. We’ll address the quarterback position and try to put our team in the most competitive position possible. I will not discuss any roster changes until they’ve been completed, so there’s not going to be any speculation about anything that might or might not happen in the future. That’s where we are for today.

We asked a computer to count the words. The total was 449. In Belichick’s opening statement yesterday about Brady, there were 57. Fifty … bleeping … seven. And when Giardi tried to ask for at least some of the same information that Belichick offered in his remarks on Garoppolo, Bill clammed up like Frank Pentangeli.

Michael V. Gazzo as Frank Pentangeli in "The Godfather Part II". (Paramount Pictures)

Paramount Pictures

Of course, if you are Belichick defender – and you have every right to be given his record – you simply take the bad with the good. Whether it was Lawyer Milloy … or Richard Seymour … or Logan Mankins … or whoever … Bill generally has acted the same. He tells you he’s doing what he thinks is best for the team. Or he says nothing at all. And he takes no questions.

Fine. Then why the verbal love letter when he traded away Garoppolo? And make no mistake: it always means more when Bill says it. Written statements – however well-constructed – are impersonal. They’re corporate and cold. Brady himself has said glowing and complimentary things about Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and the Patriots since his departure. He’s also written his share and offered some veiled jabs, too.

During the final days, weeks and months of Brady’s time with the Patriots, various members of the media indicated that all Brady needed to stay was a little more appreciation from Belichick. He didn’t get any, which is fine. Football is business and business is often war. Garoppolo started two games for the Patriots – two – and got a 449-word sonnet on his way out the door. Brady won six Super Bowls and got what amounted to a form letter.

What’s done is done.

But when Brady’s loyalists suggested this offseason that Bill could have shown a little more appreciation for his incomparable (former) quarterback, well, maybe they were all on to something.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.