Much of the football world reacted to news of Tom Brady’s retirement in real time, and many wasted no time sizing up Brady’s legacy or weighing in on his impact or sharing stories about playing with the future Hall of Famer.
But one person, to whom Brady has been inextricably linked for nearly two decades, took his time to say anything about Brady. Bill Belichick, who coached Brady from 2000-19, waited longer than most to release a statement on Brady’s retirement. He posted it through the Patriots on Twitter on Wednesday night.
The ultimate competitor.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 3, 2022
“I am privileged to have drafted and coached Tom Brady, the ultimate competitor and winner. . . . His pursuit of excellence was inspirational. Tom was professional on and off the field and carried himself with class, integrity and kindness,” Belichick said in the statement.
Normally, it wouldn’t be unusual for someone of Belichick’s caliber and someone so linked to Brady to say something about him, but much has been made about their relationship, especially toward the end of Brady’s time in New England, which some say was less than harmonious.
Notably, Brady decided not to mention New England or Belichick in his initial Instagram or Twitter posts announcing his retirement. That led to speculation about whether that was intentional or an oversight.
Regardless, the Patriots as an organization didn’t seem to mind as it congratulated Brady right away. Brady quote tweeted the post.
It was quite the ride.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 1, 2022
Belichick is often a man of few words and little emotion, but the same can’t be said for Patriots owner Robert Kraft in this instance, who reportedly was livid about being left out of Brady’s posts.
— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) February 2, 2022
“It was an unpleasant day at the executive offices in [Foxborough]. Robert Kraft, when he first heard the news, was very upset and he was screaming and he was yelling,” former Patriots linebacker and Brady teammate Ted Johnson said on NBC Sports Boston.
Johnson described it as “a significant temper tantrum” and said he was a bit surprised at such a display of emotion from Kraft.
Despite his supposed anger, Kraft released a statement before Belichick did.
“Words cannot describe the respect I have for Tom Brady nor adequately express the gratitude . . . for all he did during his career,” Kraft said. “I have the greatest respect for Tom Brady and always will.”
Brady will be eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame beginning in 2027, and likely before that for the Patriots Ring of Honor, even if Brady may have ruffled feathers with his retirement posts.