FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots dismissed as “flat-out inaccurate” a report suggesting a rift involving owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
The three released a joint statement Friday hours after an ESPN report, citing undisclosed sources, detailed an array of tension.
The story highlighted purported disputes concerning Brady’s personal body coach, Alex Guerrero, in player-medical affairs. Also mentioned is a supposed difference between Kraft and Belichick over the decision to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The story implied Brady has taken issue with a lack of praise from Belichick this season.
The statement says the three have had a “very good and productive working relationship” for 18 years and they regret having to “respond to these fallacies.”
At 13-3, the Patriots are again the AFC’s top seed in the playoffs and have a first-round bye this weekend.
Brady and Belichick both eschewed questions last month about a chasm between and Belichick and Guerrero.
Belichick wouldn’t address the validity of a Boston Globe report that Guerrero had been banned from the sideline or travelling on the team plane, but said “there are different relationships, different situations with dozens of other people.”
Brady also took issue with a reporter who asked whether the quarterback and Belichick had talked about an adjustment to Guerrero’s access to the team.
“I have a lot of conversations with him. Those are private between he and I, and I don’t think anyone knows what we talk about,” Brady said last month. “Certainly I’ve never talked about it. He’s never talked about it.”
Despite the purported off the field issues, the Patriots have thrived on it.
In spite of losing receiver Julian Edelman in the preseason to a knee injury and linebacker Dont’a Hightower in October to a season-ending pectoral injury, they enter the playoffs with the NFL’s top-ranked offense and a defense that is allowing just 18.5 points per game.
Brady is also an MVP candidate, and passed Brett Favre for the most wins in one season for a quarterback after turning 40 years old.