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On Sunday night, the New England Patriots pulled off a comeback for the ages, winning the Super Bowl and giving Tom Brady his fifth championship. But as great as his performance was, don’t tell Bill Belichick that Brady had any extra motivation this season.
One of the ongoing stories heading into the season was that Brady was going to be driven by his Deflategate suspension to win another Super Bowl and give the NFL and Roger Goodell a figurative middle finger. Many felt those sentiments were proven correct by Brady’s otherworldly performance at age 39, leading to one of his best seasons ever with 28 touchdown passes and just two interceptions.
Belichick thinks those takes are “insulting” to Brady and the hard work he has always put in to get better.
When Belichick met with the media on Monday, he was asked a fairly benign question about people not appreciating Brady’s “passing abilities” as much as “his heart, his leadership, his grit.” Belichick started his answer by pointing out that Brady has been an accurate and talented passer for a long time.
But then Belichick went on a tangent and began defending Brady against suggestions that he was motivated by Deflategate this season.
“With all due respect, I think it’s really inappropriate to suggest that in Tom’s career that he has been anything other than a great teammate, a great worker, and has given us every single ounce of effort, blood, sweat, and tears, that he has in him,” Belichick said. “To insinuate that this year was somehow different, that this year he competed harder or did anything to a higher degree than ever has in the past, I think is insulting to the tremendous effort, and leadership, and competitiveness that he has shown for the 17 years that I have coached him. He has been like that every year, every day, every week, every practice. I don’t care if it is in May, August, or January. Tom Brady gives us his best every time he steps onto the field.”
It is unusual and even a little jarring to hear Belichick be so forceful on any topic. But the sudden change of direction in the answer suggests that Belichick has been stewing about this for a while and wanted to get it off his chest.
You can see Belichick’s full comment here: