People focus on the football moments that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick produced together over two decades in New England — as well they should.
However, sometimes we overlook all of the human stuff — good and bad — that happened while the greatest quarterback-head coach duo in NFL history worked for the Patriots.
Brian Belichick, Bill’s youngest son, offered a reminder Tuesday afternoon. While speaking with reporters during a Zoom call, Brian, the Patriots’ safeties coach, shared his “favorite” Tom Brady story.
“In 2000, he’s a rookie, fourth string, or whatever it was. Working his way up,” Brian Belichick said. “It was one of the rare times we practiced in the bubble and one of the rare times I came to practice — I was eight years old. He stayed after practice, of course, working on stuff to make himself better, as we have all now come to expect him to always do those things. As a rookie, toward the end of the depth chart, he was always getting better and that’s what led him to be a great player. He was working on whatever he was working on — his drops, whatever it was — and my dad over the last couple years had taught me the route tree of, you know, the ‘three’ is an out, and the ‘four’ is a curl, and an ‘eight’ is a post, and all that. And, so, he asked Tom to stay after and signal the route tree to me and I could see the signal, know the route and run it. And we did that after practice one day in the bubble, and he laid a couple out for me on a rubber mat that I could dive on and stuff. It was a very special memory for me growing up, and I’ve always appreciated that: him staying after with me doing the route tree. He was a great example to watch growing up, always.”
Brian Belichick added: “It felt like I was a real player. It was fun. I, of course, once that happened, I was like, ‘Oh man, this is the best quarterback to ever live.’ That’s what I was thinking then, before he became the best.”
(The sixth-year Patriots staffer made sure to clarify that he does not take credit as the “first” person to believe Brady was destined for greatness.)
The Belichicks and the rest of the Patriots will see Brady on Sunday night when New England hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brian knows the entire defense, including the safeties, will have a tough time slowing down Tampa’s excellent offense, led by Brady.
“He’s a great player,” Brian said. “We have a hell of a challenge coming up trying to stop him this week.”
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