SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Patriots

February 2, 2012

Belichick and Brady: A football marriage

(Continued)

Brady and Belichick are often asked about each other and about their relationship.

Brady has always said that Belichick is the boss and that his coach's preparation is unparalleled.

When asked to compare Brady with, say, Peyton Manning or rank him among the all-time best, Belichick usually holds back a bit. But he makes it clear he understands his own success is tied to Brady's

"Anything that's associated with winning, I'm proud of," said Belichick, after beating the Ravens in the AFC Championship two Sundays ago. "There's no quarterback I'd rather have than Tom Brady. He's the best. He does so much for us in so many ways on so many different levels. I'm really fortunate that he's our quarterback and for what he's able to do for this team."

The close relationship between coach and quarterback was on display in the NFL Network's documentary, "Bill Belichick: A Football Life."

Belichick and Brady were seen having frank discussions about the team and its struggles in 2009 during a painful loss to the New Orleans Saints. It was almost as if Belichick was seeking his quarterback's advice.

"We have no mental toughness. We go on the road ... we have no mental toughness," said Belichick to Brady. "I can't get this team to play the way we need to play. I just can't do it."

Belichick and Brady's mutual trust goes back to the 11th game of the 2001 season, when Drew Bledsoe had regained his health two months after a rib injury. The Patriots were 5-5, and Brady had been good, not great, over a four-game stretch, with seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

In a controversial move, Belichick chose Brady over Bledsoe. In that first game as the undisputed starter, Brady threw for four TDs in a 34-17 win over New Orleans. The Patriots never lost again that season.

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