THE PROBLEM WITH living your life under the spotlight is that the camera captures only the public eruption, not the months of silent anger. On Dec. 3, when the New England Patriots played the Buffalo Bills, Tom Brady walked to the sideline after throwing late and behind receiver Brandin Cooks on third down, ending a first-quarter drive. Brady was angrier and more irritable than usual, as has often been the case this season in the eyes of some Patriots players and staff. As he unsnapped his chinstrap, Brady passed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on the sideline.
Brady kept walking, and glaring at McDaniels, so the coach repeated: "We had him open." Brady snapped, pivoting to McDaniels and yelling at him, "I Harrison Barnes Authentic Jersey got it!" Everyone within earshot, including head coach Bill Belichick, turned to watch as Brady screamed. He removed his helmet, and as a Patriots staffer held him back -- and with McDaniels' father and legendary high school coach in Ohio, Thom, in the stands behind the bench -- capped off the exchange by yelling, "F--- you!"
Video of the scene went viral, with many rationalizing it as a symptom of Brady's legendary competitiveness. Brady would later apologize to McDaniels, who dismissed the incident to reporters as "part of what makes him great." After all, many in the Patriots' building knew that Brady's explosion wasn't really about McDaniels. It wasn't about Cooks. And it wasn't about the Bills game. It was about the culmination of months of significant behind-the-scenes frustrations. For almost two decades, Belichick has managed to subvert the egos of his best player, his boss and himself for the good of the team, yielding historic results. This year, though, the dynamics have been different.
THE PATRIOTS ARE in uncharted territory. They haven't just won games and titles. They've won at an unprecedented rate and over an unprecedented span, which makes the feelings of entitlement creeping inside Gillette Stadium unprecedented as well. The Patriots, in the only statement anyone associated with the team would make on the record for this story, responded to specific questions by saying that there are
"several inaccuracies and multiple examples given that absolutely did not occur," though they declined to go into detail. But according to interviews with more than a dozen New England staffers, executives, players and league sources with knowledge of the team's inner workings, the three most powerful people in the franchise -- Belichick, Brady and owner Robert Kraft -- have had serious disagreements.
They differ on Brady's trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team's long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick's bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing. Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group.
Brady, Belichick and Kraft have raised expectations and possibilities so high that virtually no other team in the Super Bowl era could truly comprehend what it's like to be them. Brady and Belichick weren't only pushing the boundaries of what a team could accomplish. They also were challenging basic understandings of how a group of high achievers escape the usual pulls of ego and pride. For 17 years, the Patriots have withstood everything the NFL and opponents could throw their way, knowing that if they were united, nobody could touch them. Now they're threatening to come undone the only way possible: from within.
THE CRACKS FIRST revealed themselves in early September. The season had just started, and Guerrero was once again becoming an issue in the Patriots' building, just weeks before the release of Brady's first real book, "The TB12 Method." It was more than a fitness and diet guide. For Brady, a self-described "loner" who always seemed most comfortable surrounded by family or on a football field, the book represented a move to extend his brand beyond the game -- and beyond the Patriots. Until a few years ago, he seemed uninterested in ever doing so, content to be a father and husband and son and http://www.officialfootballauthentics.com/indianapolis_colts-c-34_433.html brother and transcendent quarterback, knowing there wasn't time for much else.
Guerrero persuaded Brady to find time. The two http://www.cardinalsofficialnflauthenticonline.com/cardinals+andre+ellington+jersey men had worked together for years, with Guerrero having found a spot in Brady's famously small group of advisers, eventually becoming a godfather to one of his sons.
Guerrero has a history of controversial methods -- in 2005, he paid a judgment to the Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations that he had claimed dietary supplements could help cure cancer -- and he believed he had discovered a way to revolutionize how athletes train. In his book and in the Archie Bradley Jersey building, Brady was offering opinions not only on training but also on lifestyle, writing that he envisioned a world populated with TB12 Sports Therapy Center franchises.