Brady scores a win, after allBy STEVE BUCKLEY
February 07. 2018 11:12PM
Tom Brady fired the “like” heard ‘round the world Tuesday, hinting at an insurrection going on deep within Patriots Nation.
And sure enough, Brady’s shot was followed by a larger, more telling piece of news: Josh McDaniels is not going to be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts after all.
For the moment, he remains the Patriots offensive coordinator. But you know, and I know, and the Krafts know, and Brady knows, and I assure you Bill Belichick knows, that Josh McDaniels is the next head coach of the Patriots. It’s just a matter of if he takes the reins next week or next season.
What a stunning day of news for the Patriots.
What a stunning victory for Brady.
And to think it all began with the three-time NFL MVP quarterback “liking” a tweet by Malcolm Butler, the cornerback who was exiled to the sideline by Belichick Sunday night in Super Bowl LII as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was shredding the Patriots’ defense.
Belichick has had little to say about why he banished Butler, other than offering variations of a go-to of his: It was a football decision.
Meanwhile, all kinds of rumors circulated that would have you believe Butler spent all last week wandering around the Twin Cities with a serious case of the munchies.
Butler refused to be the Super Bowl LII fall guy. Tuesday, he took to Twitter to defend himself.
“During my four year career with the Patriots,” he wrote, “I have always given it everything I have to play at a high level, and would never do anything to hurt my team’s chances of winning a game, including this year’s Super Bowl where I visited with my family every night.”
And the . . . rumors?
“During Super Bowl week I never attended any concert, missed curfew or participated (in) any of the ridiculous activities being reported,” he wrote. “They are not only false, but hurtful to me and my family. Although I wish I could have contributed more to help my team win, I have to get ready for the next opportunity.”
My guess is there’s truth to both sides of this story, which would place Malcolm in the middle. But while Butler did a fine job defending himself Tuesday, his words will not be remembered by aging Patriots fans years from now.
What they will remember is Brady’s words in support of Butler.
In liking Butler’s post on Instagram, Brady wrote, “Love you Malcolm. You are an incredible player and teammate and friend. Always!!!!!!”
That’s six exclamation points, one for each Brady-led Super Bowl-winning team plus one more for the Super Bowl winner he might have played on had Belichick relented Sunday night and allowed Butler to take a shot at helping to contain Foles.
With that one post from Brady, the narrative changed.
With that one post, battle lines were drawn.
And after seeing that one post, that’s when the Indianapolis Colts should have realized they weren’t going to get Josh McDaniels, if they hadn’t already been told by then.
It’s worth noting the biggest off-the-field storyline of the 2017 Patriots season was Brady’s age. He was a 40-year-old quarterback whose better days perhaps were behind him, and it was believed Belichick viewed Jimmy Garoppolo as the quarterback of the future.
And then Belichick mysteriously traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round draft pick, leading to speculation he was forced to do so by Pats owner Robert Kraft.
Then Brady went out and had a season so spectacular he earned his third NFL MVP honor.
Followed by one of the best games of his career in Sunday’s losing effort against the Eagles.
Now it’s Belichick’s age that’s being placed under a microscope. He turns 66 in April. He faces an insurrection in his locker room, with Brady indirectly challenging him via social media. The coach’s decision to sit Butler is being questioned far and wide, to the degree that even such ex-Patriots as Rob Ninkovich are saying he handled it all wrong.
The social media lifeline from Brady to Butler, at the expense of Belichick, confirms the Pats are every bit as dysfunctional as earlier reports suggested they are.
Or is dysfunction too strong a word here?
“Dysfunction is when people take energy and use it to think about how to undermine other people,” Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said last week in an interview with the NFL Network’s Andrea Kremer. “That does not happen. If it happens in this organization, I haven’t seen it.”
Again, that was last week.
You don’t need Patriots Waze to find a direct route to the core of all this disharmony inside Gillette Stadium.
Forget Tom vs. Time.
This is Tom vs. Bill.