For years, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were a coach and quarterback duo that haunted the rest of the NFL. Days after Brady’s (second) retirement, Belichick joined his former QB on his podcast to discuss what it was like coaching him.
On the “Let’s Go! with Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald and Jim Gray” podcast, Belichick lavished Brady, who announced his retirement on Feb. 1, with the highest praise, calling him the “greatest” to ever play the sport.
“The greatest player. The greatest career,” Belichick told Brady. “A great, great person. It was such an opportunity and honor for me to coach Tom. I guess it’s got to end at some point. But it’s the greatest [career] ever so congratulations, Tom.”
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Belichick shed light on what it was like behind the scenes to coach Brady. He discussed how during meetings, Brady would recount the exact specifics of a play with such precise detail that it might as well have been playing on a tape in his head. Belichick recounted that after a play, Brady would break down what happened with a defensive tackle charging, linebacker dropping outside and a safety playing too far back, and when Belichick would check the game tape later, the play would play out exactly as Brady said.
He said that during film sessions, Brady could discuss plays that happened weeks, months, even years earlier and bring them up to try and help dissect a defense.
“Tom talks about how much I taught him in those meetings, but I learned so much from Tom, because I never played quarterback and I never saw the game through the quarterback’s eyes,” Belichick said. “The memory and the capacity that Tom had to remember plays, situations and finer points like hard counts and getting out of bounds plays and things like that from years before in the exact same situation and time frame was remarkable.
“We had a good relationship, especially in the film room and talking football and all that that I’ll always treasure and I learned so much from. Because nobody sees the game better than Tom Brady sees it or saw it, and I was so lucky to learn from him and his vision. No other coach will get that experience.”
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In what was an emotional interview, Brady also shared what it meant for him to be coached by Belichick, praising him for seeing something in him that few others saw and helping bring out the best in him.
Brady was asked about what Belichick did that brought out the best in him, and Brady said it was more about what he didn’t do as a coach.
“I think it’s more what he did not do to bring out the best in me. I was just very lucky,” Brady said. “I always think for so many young players, who’s going to be there? Anybody can get drafted to a place. Who’s going to turn you into something? Who’s going to develop you? Who’s going to take you under their wing? And sometimes it’s a player that does it. And I definitely had a lot of players do that and obviously I had someone that really saw something in me that not a lot of other people did. And yeah there were offensive coaches, but I think coach Belichick and I developed an amazing relationship.”
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Brady also took aim at the narratives that often persisted around the Patriots of Brady vs. Belichick, particularly near the end of Brady’s time in New England. Brady said he felt it was always people trying to pull the two apart, and said they never were trying to pull each other apart. He said he believed the narrative wound up being pedaled because people were tired of talking about the championships, and wanted instead to divide them.
“I think for me, there’s nobody I’d rather be associated with. And I think that from my standpoint, I think it’s always such a stupid conversation to say Brady vs. Belichick,” Brady said. “Because in my mind, that’s not what partnerships are about. Coach couldn’t play quarterback and I couldn’t coach. And I think the best part about football is, and coach says it a lot, ‘Do your job.’ And he asked me to play quarterback, he didn’t ask me to coach.'”
The combination of the two will go down as perhaps the most dynamic coach-QB duo in NFL history. The pair shared six Super Bowl rings and 10 appearances in the big game. And while the two might have shared a field for the last time in 2019, the two will share a spot in Canton five years after Belichick retires.