Laird: Sorry Tom Brady, Bill Belichick will win in the end


On the night of November 3, 2020, many a Donald Trump voter felt good about their candidate’s chances for reelection. And yet Wednesday, some two months later, Joe Biden gets sworn in as President of the United States.

In our nation’s other great competition, Tom Brady might appear to be a clear victor in his divorce from Bill Belichick. But we won’t get fooled again, will we?

Sure, Brady captured Round 1 on every judge’s scorecard - mine included - after his impressive performance in Tampa Bay’s win over Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the NFL Divisional Round. And while the Buccaneers’ defense played a key role in the victory, I’m not going to knock Brady’s part either; he played extremely well, took advantage of every short field, and at age 43 he’s cemented his GOAT quarterback status for decades to come.

But the debate here is not about Brady’s place among all-time QBs, and one round does not a boxing match make. At least not this one, where Belichick is resting comfortably in his corner after a few Brady body blows with some $50 million in free agent cash to spend.

No, this brawl is just beginning. The debate of who drove The Dynasty won’t end until both have retired, and we see who has reached a greater height without the other. And my money is still on Belichick reaching that mountaintop.

The biggest advantage Belichick has, of course, is time. He’s convinced me with his actions this season that he’s in it for the long haul, probably to catch Don Shula’s wins record (37 away). This is now a rebuild fully in progress, and Bill is so committed to it he’s turning down requests from life-long friends and Medals of Freedom to put his football franchise first. The Hoodie is ready for a 15-round fight.

Knowing Belichick’s drive, competitiveness, and football intelligence, do you really expect this season to be his final word? Of course not. He’s probably more driven now than at any time in the past 20 years.

Quotes like the one Bruce Arians gave NBC’s Peter King over the weekend will keep the motivational fire burning all offseason. “I allow [Brady] to be himself,” Arians said. “Like, New England didn’t allow him to coach. I allow him to coach.” After reading that, Belichick probably went into a rage and then watched another 1,000 hours of college scouting film.

As for Brady, well he’d better deliver the knockout blow in the next few rounds, because he’s borrowed more time than Betty White.

Brady’s best chance to hoist a seventh Lombardi is likely this season, and that’s with the formidable duo of Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes standing in his way. Don’t forget, Brady has now chosen to take closer to top quarterback dollar, which will impact what Tampa GM Jason Licht can put around Brady in years to come; and Tampa has 30 free agents ready to hit the open market this offseason. This Dream Team won’t stay intact for long.

Belichick obviously needs to find a better quarterback to steer his course toward IX Rings, but he doesn’t need Mahomes; a top tier QB should get the job done. If Bill really is the greatest coach of all time, he should be able to win with one of the league’s 10-15 best QBs. The 2021 Draft gives him a first crack, and he’ll have several more chances that cross his GM desk over the next few years if he’s willing to deal. I have no doubt the Pats will have a premiere signal caller again in Belichick’s time.

By then, barring Brady finishing the job, the memories of Tampa Bay’s 2020 second round win will have faded into the recesses of our mind. If this is the best post-New England Brady can do, and Belichick’s Patriots win it all in 2025, will you still say Brady won the divorce? I think not.

So before you inaugurate Brady as the Supreme GOAT of football, let’s wait until all those mail-in ballots are tallied, shall we? I’ll wager Belichick is doing just fine riding out another Nantucket winter with Nike by his side and a warm fire crackling away on the hearth.

Let Brady and Alex Guerrero have their postgame on-field hug. The TB12 company was the only clear legacy winner last Sunday in the Superdome as the 43-year old’s performance was sure to move some supplements off of shelves.

But move aside Belichick in the Great Debate? Not so fast, my friend. Since when was the NFL Divisional round a decider of anything for these two? Bill vs. Brady has only just begun, and the smart money is still on the coach to emerge as the greatest in the end.