'We stand united': Kraft, Brady, Belichick respond to ESPN report
The New England Patriots released a statement Friday strongly denying an ESPN report about a growing rift between owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady that threatens to split them up.
"As our actions have shown, we stand united," the three men said.
The ESPN report indicated that it may be "the beginning of the end" for the triumvirate behind the dominance of the New England Patriots.
The report, which cited unnamed sources within the organization, said the men "have had serious disagreements" and that there's a feeling they may part ways after this season.
"In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate," the joint statement, posted on the Patriots's social media sites, said.
ESPN reported that Belichick was said to be "furious" when he was ordered by Kraft to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco.
The report said there have also been differences with Brady's trainer and business partner Alex Guerrero and the "TB12 Method."
Meanwhile, the New York Daily News reported that a source said Belichick has a desire to coach the New York Giants. The team is looking for a new head coach.
The Daily News article's source also said he's not certain if the reported friction in Foxborough will prompt Belichick to force his way out.
Belichick has an affection for the Giants, as he worked as an assistant under Bill Parcells, winning two Super Bowls.
The status of Belichick's Patriots contract is unclear at this point, but it's believed to extend beyond the current season.
Kraft responded to the claim of uncertainty in an interview with Peter King of Sports Illustrated, saying he believes "absolutely" that Bill Belichick will be the head coach of the Patriots in 2018. He also denies telling Bellichick to trade Garoppolo nor did he meet with Belichick prior to the move.
Brady also spoke out Saturday in an interview that aired on Westwood One Sports, saying, "I think for so long we have proven that we ignore the noise, we do our job, we speak for ourselves and we focus on what we need to do to help the team win."
Brady continued, telling Jim Gray, "when I read things that are disparaging about somebody or someone or something; those are the things that probably bother me because I think those are things that are completely untrue and they're very different from the core of the person that I am because I don't let a lot of negative thoughts enter into my mind."
The Patriots are preparing to host an AFC Divisional Playoff game on Jan. 13.
"We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years," the Patriots' joint statement said. "It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies."
Kraft, Belichick and Brady have led the team to five Super Bowl championships in 15 years.