Who was more important: Brady or Belichick?

by Gary Shelton on May 24, 2020

in general

Was Brady more important than Belichick?/JEFFREY S. KING

Was it Jimmy, or was it Jerry?

Was it Joe Cool, or was it Bill?

Was it Tony, or was it Jon?

As a nation, we seem to hate this notion of shared glory. Save it for Starsky and Hutch. We look at success from this way and that, from over and under, and the only thing we agree on is this: The credit has to go to one lone rider above all else. Someone has to be the star of the show.

And so we debate again. Was this guy more responsible for the victories or was that one? Never mind the thought of shared credit. Someone has to sit on the throne. Someone deserves all the glory.


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I mention this because of the newest game to hit the NFL: Did the credit for winning six Super Bowls belong to Bill Belichick? Or did it belong to Tom Brady? In some corners, it is a debate that will continue until one man or the other wins another Super Bowl.

Oh, we've seen it before. Tampa Bay fans still want to debate how much credit Tony Dungy should get for the Bucs' Super Bowl win, and how much should go to Jon Gruden, who was actually the coach of the team. Me? I'm in the minority. I think it took both men -- and a lot of other men -- to win the trophy. It took Dungy to build much of a roster, and it took Gruden to put it over the top. What's wrong with giving both men a share of credit? (And Rich McKay, and Derrick Brooks, and Warren Sapp, and John Lynch, and Ronde Barber, and Monte Kiffin and dozens of others).

In a wise world, that's how it works. There are reasons there are different tasks for different men, and when it all comes together, what's the harm in recognizing different contributions?

Not us. We like Lennon over McCartney (or vice-versa). We like Mr. Outside over Mr. Inside. We like Romulus over Remus. It holds assetive. It sounds decision. There is nothing wishy-washy when you pick one guy over the other.

(It's odd. You never hear people argue over whether Greg Schiano or Josh Freeman were more to blame for their disappointments, do you?)

It's all over a version of the same argument in other places. In Dallas, they debate Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones. In Washington, it's Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard. In San Francisco, it's Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. I suppose among the old-timers in Green Bay, you can get a debate going for Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr. We want a star to the show. We want a face on the money. Just one face. Just one hero. Hey, the movie wasn't "Shane and that other guy."

The discussion is popular, of course, because Belichick and Brady have broken up the band. And, immediately, fans began to take sides. Belichick is a guy who just directed traffic while Brady led his team to victory. Or Brady was just a system quarterback who danced while Belichick played the fiddle.

To me, it's simple. In these days of free agency and constant change, it took both me. You'd have a case if you want to argue that Brady is the best quarterback ever to play. You'd have a case if you want to argue that Belichick is the best coach. Neither one of the guys is a second banana.

Hey, I understand the breakup. One of the reasons the Patriots' run has gone on so long is that Belichick isn't afraid to send talent elsewhere. He saw Brady near the end of the line, and he didn't want to commit millions to keep him. Brady, in an era where quarterbacks play longer because they have more protection, wanted another battlefield.

So who is in better shape? The Patriots still have a playoff roster (except for quarterback), and they play in a division that doesn't scare anyone. Brady has weapons, but the Bucs haven't made any noise for a long time. Certainly, it will be interesting to see which of the two has a better season.

But does it prove which man was more responsible for the rings? Of course not.

Both men were essential.

Of course, that's only if you're fair.

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