The New England Patriots enjoyed a beautiful dynasty over the past 20 years thanks to the work of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The two parted ways this season and one glance at Brady leading his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl will tell you all you need to know about which party has had the better first year since the separation.
One former Patriot offered a glimpse into the power struggle that might have ultimately led to the breakup on an excellent episode of Drink Champs, which is hosted by rapper NORE, and featured three-fourths of the I Am Athlete cast.
If you haven’t subscribed to their channel, and you enjoy candid conversations about football, you’ll want to give it a look. There may not be a more informative and entertaining, player-centric podcast crew available today.
One of the personalities on the IAA cast is former Jacksonville Jaguars and Patriots running back Fred Taylor. He played for the Patriots in his 12th season in the NFL. He had some interesting comments about the dynamic between Brady and Belichick, as well as Bill O’Brien.
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Taylor: “I’m Doing What Tom Says”
Taylor: “I was in New England for 2 years with Brady, towards the end of my career. Brady treated everybody the same, practice squad, 10-year vet, you know what I’m saying? That’s why I think Brady the GOAT.”
Taylor: “I went to New England in year 12. I did 10,000 yards in Jacksonville.”
Nore: “You’re at 12,000 right now, right?”
Taylor: “I’m about this close” (makes the small-portion motion with his fingers) and the small crowd applauds.
Taylor: “Going to New England, I’m looking around and s###, like damn, I don’t wanna f### up what they got going on. So, I’m up there, but Tom runs every f###### thing. So you get up there, and he’s chill. I get up there, and he’s like ‘Freddy, dem PRP jeans, bruh?’ So, I’m like OK, we cool now. He’s on the s### that I’m on. Practice squad, 10-year vet, everybody on the same playing field, but if you f### up on the field he treating it the same. He knows everybody’s name, like everybody, it ain’t about dollars, it ain’t about position, it’s about respect and what you can bring to the team and how urgent you can get it done. So, that’s what Tom was about. He didn’t minimize who you were if you were making $100,000.”
Nore: “Who does the team listen to more, in a situation like Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, who does the team listen to more?”
Taylor: “They’re going to listen to who they’re in the trenches with.”
Nore: “Meaning, Tom, because they’re going to war with Tom?”
Taylor: “Cause Tom got the last say? Look, when the last time you’ve seen a CEO fire themselves? If you’re the CEO, you gone fire yourself?”
NORE: “No, I don’t think so, sir.”
Taylor: “Alright then, when Brady on that field, he’s the CEO. You feel me? He don’t give a f### what Belichick says. Cause at the end of the day, who got to make these plays and get paid? That was my mindset, the same with Tom. So we go on the field and Tom like ‘a yo Freddy, do the s### this way’ we did it this way in practice 20 times, but on the field, ‘I just saw something’ do it this way. Guess what, that s### gone work. The coaches ain’t gone say a m############# thing.
NORE: “Ever been a time when Belichick told you to do something and Tom told you to do something else, and you were caught in that confliction?
Taylor: “I’m a do what Tom says.”
The dynamic described in this excerpt of the conversation is a great example of two alpha-males (perhaps three when you consider O’Brien was the quarterbacks coach) potentially bumping heads as one’s status begins to supersede his actual position. Could it be Belichick was unwilling to relinquish control, or simply hungry to rebuild another dynasty without Brady?
We can’t say for sure, but this sounds particularly telling considering the break-up we just witnessed unfold.
Who is Fred Taylor?
Taylor was one of the NFL’s best running backs during the 2000s. He rushed for 11,695 yards, 66 TDs and also stacked up 2,384 receiving yards and 8 TD receptions. He retired in 2010 after spending the last two seasons of his career with the Patriots. Taylor played only 13 games over the final two years of his career as injuries kept him off the field and led to his retirement.
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