While ESPN’s report on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick rift is a stain, it will never come close to surpassing the New England Patriots legacy this century.

New England Patriots fans are still trying to absorb the fact that the future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom brady won’t be wearing the Pats’ uniform anymore, at least not until the multitude of Super Bowl reunion teams on the road.

Brady leaving the only team he has ever known professionally for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency was a punch. There is no way around it.

Then on Sunday ESPN’s Seth Wickersham wrote yet another article on the Patriots and the longtime breakup between Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick. While citing a number of incidents between the two figures, part of Wickersham’s report said:

Brady made it clear that he played football until his mid-forties. He preferred to sign a deal to make sure he pulled out a Patriot, but if the team refused he was going to move on. He wanted clarity. He met Belichick and the meeting ended with an “explosion,” a source said. He met Kraft. It has received mixed signals. Team president Jonathan Kraft told the NFL Network in January 2018 that Brady “deserved the right” to decide when he wanted to quit playing for the team. On the flip side, that right never took the form of a contract extension, at least not one Brady thought it would last the rest of his career.

Simply put, Brady wanted long term security. Belichick, meanwhile, was likely considering Brady’s long-term future.

No matter how anyone turns it around, the Brady-Belichick Rift puts an end to what was otherwise a fairy tale for most of this century.

And that’s the legacy fans should remember.

Consider this heritage for a moment. Since Brady, an unannounced sixth-round NFL pick in 2000, took office in 2001, the Patriots have missed the playoffs only twice. And they’ve won six Super Bowls during that time. It’s the kind of domination parallel to the New York Yankees between the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s or the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s.

In short, New England is the team of the century, not just the decade. No other version of this argument would make sense.

Brady solidified his position as the best quarterback in NFL history, while Belichick will be remembered as the greatest head coach of all time. Other notable names have already passed, yes. And they will always be in the discussion. But what Brady and Belichick have created and maintained together since the 2001 storybook season will be nearly impossible to review. At least for a long, long time anywhere in the league.

Rifts are also part of these legacies. Just ask the Hall of Fame quarterback Joe montana, whose competition under another legendary head coach, Bill walsh, with another Hall of Fame quarterback Steve young inevitably caused a move from the San Francisco 49ers to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993. It ended the Niners Dynasty of the 1980s, but few go back to these particular incidents with remorse over what the 49ers did during their reign.

And in five, 10 or 20 years it will be the same argument between Brady and Belichick and all the Patriots have managed to do it.

Belichick will continue to try to lay the groundwork for the next era of football in New England, while Brady will attempt to create another storybook chapter in Tampa Bay. There is nothing wrong with it.

Instead, looking back at the memories and sheer dominance of these two reunited over most of two decades in New England will be the thing fans need to remember first and always, leaving that divide. reported as a single side note. Nothing more.

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