The relationship between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick has taken center stage this week as the two are set to go head-to-head for the first time ever when the Buccaneers and Patriots kick off their primetime matchup on Sunday night. While there have been plenty of reporters detailing the icy relationship between these two pillars of New England's dynasty, the upcoming book, "It's Better to Be Feared," by ESPN's Seth Wickersham, detailed another fascinating wrinkle in their deterioration.
As Wickersham highlights in the book, the initial fractures -- between Brady, Belichick and Robert Kraft -- in this relationship go back years. In 2017, Brady allegedly told those close to him, "I don't want to play for BIll anymore." It was around that time, Wickersham, writes, that Kraft, Brady and a few others discussed scenarios about who would replace Belichick. If Josh McDaniels left for another head coaching job, the Patriots could hire Bill O'Brien to one day succeed Belichick. O'Brien then caught wind of that plan and tried to force his way out of Houston.
"The plan was fanciful but O'Brien heard about it," Wickersham writes, via an excerpt released by ESPN.com. "He was in a power struggle of his own in Houston, fighting with general manager Rick Smith, a 'dysfunctional' and 'toxic' situation, according to the Houston Chronicle. The leaks from O'Brien's camp, claiming he wanted out, were so aggressive as to be suspicious, as if he knew he had a golden parachute. In the end, though, the [Texans] chose O'Brien over Smith, giving the coach more control over football operations. O'Brien later joked to a confidant that it was a somewhat empty victory. 'I was trying to get fired,' he said."
While the discontent with Belichick was well documented on Brady's end, the book also highlights how Kraft would oftentimes grow tired of the head coach. The book reveals that Kraft told confidants that "Bill was an idiot savant," pointing to his reputation prior to coming on with the Patriots in 2000 after coaching the Browns. He also felt that Belichick "didn't show him the respect he deserved, but he was in no rush for life after him."
Wickersham also writes that Kraft once called Belichick the "biggest f----ng a--hole in my life."
Despite that in-fighting, the Patriots were able to continue to win at the highest level, including their final title together in Super Bowl LIII during the 2018 season.