On Thursday, news broke of Patriots receiver (and Tom Brady's BFF) for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy. It didn't take long for the NFL community to point out that Edelman, , had been working with Brady's controversial personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, this offseason. It also didn't take long for Guerrero to issue a statement to defend his innocence in the matter.
On Thursday night, Guerrero denied playing a role in Edelman's suspension and criticized anyone who suggested otherwise.
"I've known Julian since his rookie year and he is a phenomenal athlete who takes his training seriously -- it's disappointing to hear today's news. Elite athletes sometimes work with multiple coaches and health professionals as part of their training," he said, per Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston. "Here at our facility, we take a natural, holistic, appropriate and, above all, legal approach to training and recovery for all of our clients. And anyone who would suggest otherwise is irresponsible, and just plain wrong."
"Yeah, I mean, everyone's a competitor. So sometimes you're your own worst enemy when you're trying to do that," Edelman said. "But it is what it is, and there's a big part of the process and I've got a lot of guys, training staff helping me out -- TB12, all that stuff -- to get to where I want to be."
Two months ago, Edelman compared Guerrero to Mr. Miyagi in an Instagram story that showed him working with Brady's trainer.
In December, Edelman also credited Guerrero for keeping his muscles "pliable" during an interview on Adam Schefter's podcast, "Know Them From Adam."
"I'm at the facility from 7 to 3 o'clock, working on my knee, then I go up to the TB12 center," Edelman said, according to Boston.com. "I get that work in with Alex Guerrero to keep all my muscles pliable and try to put a stamp on letting all my muscles go dormant."
You get the point. Edelman has been working with Guerrero for a while now, which makes sense given how close Edelman and Brady have gotten over the course of their careers and how close Brady and Guerrero are too. But that doesn't make Guerrero automatically responsible for what happened to Edelman. Just becausedoesn't automatically make him responsible for Edelman's suspension. Just because doesn't make him automatically responsible for Edelman's suspension.
However, what could be important here is how Belichick responds to Edelman's suspension and his involvement with Guerrero. In ESPN's Seth Wickersham's January story on the turmoil within the Patriots' organization, he went in depth on the issues between Belichick and Guerrero.
Here's one important nugget from that story:
Brady and Guerrero's training beliefs introduced an unspoken pressure in the building, with players wondering where they should work out. In August, receiver Julian Edelman blew out his knee, costing him the season, and there was "hypersensitivity" among players, in the words of a Patriots coach, over who would take his place. New players felt the surest way to earn Brady's trust was to join Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and others by seeking advice from Guerrero at his TB12 clinic -- and not team doctors, which Belichick preferred. Guerrero says he wasn't pressuring players to adopt his approach. "Players have always decided to come or not come on their own," he says now. But according to multiple sources, players openly discussed with Patriots coaches, staff and trusted advisers whether to follow Brady or the team, leaving them trapped: Do we risk alienating the NFL's most powerful coach or risk alienating the NFL's most powerful quarterback?
And here's another:
Belichick felt the need to permanently clarify Guerrero's role, drawing sharp boundaries. After the brief discussion with Brady, Belichick emailed Guerrero to let him know that while he was welcome to work with any players who sought out TB12, he was no longer permitted access to the sideline or all of the team headquarters because he wasn't an employee of the Patriots (a point that Belichick would resoundingly make clear when reporters asked about Guerrero).
An email designed to solve problems only created more of them. Guerrero texted some of the Patriots players who were clients and specified, he says now, "that I would need to treat them at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center." But several players told staffers and coaches that Guerrero gave them the impression that Belichick would no longer allow them to work with him. In the view of many Patriots, it was an example of Guerrero trying to split the organization by turning players against Belichick.
If Belichick blames Guerrero, the situation could create even more tension between Belichick and Guerrero, which could create even more tension between Belichick and Brady.
Of course, it's worth noting that for all of the reported tension that consumed the Patriots' facility a year ago, they still journeyed all the way to the Super Bowl. So, nobody should expect any of this to make its way onto the field and actively harm the Patriots' chances to make their way back to the Super Bowl. The Patriots will still be the kings of the AFC so long as Brady is under center and Belichick is standing on the sidelines.