With the Bill Belichick vs. Tom Brady discussions raging amidst the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ attempt to reach the Super Bowl, Rob Gronkowski, another key figure in this sports drama added some fuel to the fire with comments that paint his former coach as a more controlling figure than his current sideline leader, Bruce Arians.
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Gronkowski: ‘The Freedom to Be Yourself’
Gronkowski spent the first 9 years of his NFL career playing for the New England Patriots. From 2010-18, he won three Super Bowls, was voted a 4-time All-Pro, made 5 Pro Bowls, and was named to the 2010s All-Decade team. However, Gronkowski still seems to feel as though his time with the Patriots was a bit more restrictive than he’d like.
In an interview with former Patriot Willie McGinest, Gronkowski was asked to describe the difference between playing for Belichick and Arians. Gronk first gave both credit for being great coaches, and he said “I love being coached up.” The most-telling aspect of Gronk’s answer came when he said, the biggest difference was “the freedom of just being yourself with the coaches. You know what I mean, Willie?”
McGinest responded, “Oh I know what you mean, man. C’mon. I’ve been there and I’ve left, and I’ve been other places.”
Take a look at the entire interview below:
This isn’t the first time Gronk has made these kinds of assertions. Back when he was traded to the Bucs during the offseason, Gronk said this when describing his decision to come out of retirement.
[Belichick] says it all the time, man – he always says it that it’s not an easy place to play. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s the easiest organization to play for. I’ve also never played for another organization. I haven’t even been down to Tampa yet, so I’m not even sure what to expect. But I know that the New England Patriots, hands down, it’s not the easiest place to play.
Suddenly it seems, the Patriot Way is no longer en vogue.
It’s Open Season on Belichick
No one is above the sometimes premature and irrational reproach of the American sports media, and the fans who consume it on a daily basis–not even Belichick.
As the Patriots missed the playoffs in 2020 for the first time since 2008, the disrespect thrown Belichick’s way has become more emboldened as Brady, Gronk, and the Bucs’ season and now playoff run progresses.
Some of the things that were tweeted in reference to Belichick’s career on Sunday were eye-popping.
It was like this most of Sunday night and even into Monday.
Belichick’s coaching record is indisputable, and he won with Brady well before he was the guy who was the most-accomplished quarterback in league history.
Let’s Not Forget, Brady Has an Elite Supporting Cast
As great of a quarterback as Brady is, and make no mistake about it, he is fantastic; The GOAT is playing in Tampa Bay with an embarrassment of riches. The collection of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, Gronkowski, and Tyler Brate might be the best receiver/tight end group in the NFL.
The Bucs also have a strong offensive line led by rookie and future superstar Tristan Wirfs, Ali Marpet, and Ryan Jensen. The defensive side of the ball isn’t too shabby with sack master Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Antoine Winfield Jr., Devin White, Lavonte David, and Ndamukong Suh.
Brady is having a great year, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any quarterback in the league who wouldn’t have found success with that kind of protection, weapons, and support on the other side of the ball.
It’s easy to be yourself with that kind of lineup.
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