FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Despite his raspy voice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had a lot to say about rumors swirling around his relationship with Bill Belichick and his departure from the New England Patriots.
Excerpts of ESPN writer Seth Wickersham's new forthcoming book, "It's Better to Be Feared," released Wednesday, gives an inside look at a reportedly sour end to the relationship between Brady and his former head coach.
“All those things are super personal," Brady said when asked about the book. "We had a great relationship. I think everything was handled the right way. We handled everything as gracefully as we could."
Brady's first chance to address Wickersham's claims came at a Thursday news conference, where he appeared to be dealing with a sore throat.
"It was an amazing time," Brady said through a hoarse voice. "It was handled perfectly, I think, everyone understood where we are at, the people involved in the situation and worked out the best for all of us and we are all trying to do the best we can do now.”
He insisted he is in good shape for the game, though.
Brady will be playing his first game in Foxboro as a visitor after 20 years, nine Super Bowl appearances and six titles with the Patriots. In his first year as a Buc in 2020, Brady captured his seventh Super Bowl title in a 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
While the majority of Wickersham's headlines centered around Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, there were still plenty of Brady-centric nuggets. Had there been an NFL team in Los Angeles earlier in his career, Wickersham reported that Brady may have tried to force a trade there.
In addition, Brady met with Kraft and others late in 2017 to discuss who might replace Belichick as head coach in New England.
It was also reported that Belichick refused to meet with Brady in person upon his departure for Tampa Bay, preferring instead to discuss the matter over the phone.
"That's not true," Belichick told the media on Wednesday, saying the book "sounds like a lot of second-, third-, fourth-hand comments."
Belichick was also unusually complimentary of an opposing quarterback ahead of a game against the Patriots.
Asked about those comments, Brady said Belichick "taught me a lot, was a great mentor for me for a long time, and I really enjoyed my time in New England. But at the same time, [I'm] really excited about what we've done here, great group of coaches."
In his last comments, Brady downplayed the more personal aspect of the game.
"It's not about the quarterback, it's not about the fans or the home crowd or relationships of 20 years. It's about two football teams going at it," he said.
Brady, 44, is off to one of the best starts of his career statistically, having thrown for 10 touchdown passes against two interceptions over his first three games. He needs just 68 yards Sunday to surpass Drew Brees as the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards -- Brees has 80,358.