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Bill Belichick disputes report of friction between him and Robert Kraft and Tom Brady in new book

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady celebrated after they clinched a trip to Super Bowl LI in January 2017.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

In excerpts from his upcoming book “It’s Better to Be Feared,” ESPN reporter Seth Wickersham shed light on some controversial topics revolving around the Patriots dynasty.

The book, which will be released Oct. 12, purports to tell “the full, behind-the-scenes story of the Patriots, capturing the brilliance, ambition, and vanity that powered and ultimately unraveled them.”

Several details and excerpts were revealed by ESPN Wednesday. Here’s a look at some of what was released:

Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick: According to Wickersham, friction between Belichick and Kraft was on the rise in 2018.

Bill Belichick has been the head coach for Robert Kraft's team since 2000.Adam Hunger/Associated Press

“As for Kraft, in late September, he was in Aspen (Colorado) for a conference and bumped into a few friends in the hotel lobby early one morning,” wrote Wickersham. “He told them he was leaving later for Detroit, where the Patriots were playing their next game. ‘I hate leaving here,’ Kraft said. ‘You leave here and you leave some of the most brilliant people you’ve ever met. You pick up so much knowledge from all these brilliant minds. And I have to go to Detroit to be with the biggest [expletive] [expletive] in my life: my head coach.’ ”

Kraft also reportedly called Belichick “an idiot savant.”


Belichick and Tom Brady: While Brady left the Patriots as a free agent in 2020, Wickersham noted that the longtime New England quarterback first began stating a desire to leave in 2017.

Brady hit an “emotional plateau” during the 2017 season, referencing Belichick as “so negative.”

“ ‘I don’t want to play for Bill anymore,’ [Brady] told people close to him in 2017,” Wickersham wrote.

Brady wanted to meet with Belichick in person, but the coach preferred to do it by phone, according to Wickersham. Belichick disputed that report at his Wednesday media availability.

The Patriots’ reaction to Belichick’s letter to Donald Trump: After Belichick wrote a letter of support to the then-presidential candidate — and following Trump’s decision to read it aloud at a New Hampshire rally — then-Patriots assistant coach Brian Flores told Belichick that he “needed to say something” to the team.


When the Patriots coach did address the team about the letter, it reportedly wasn’t received very well.

“It was hypocritical and out of character,” said a Patriots player, per Wickersham. “I don’t think he’s an intolerant coach. He isn’t a bad guy. Bill just [expletive] up and justified it in a way that he would never accept from a player.”

The decision to bench Malcolm Butler: After years of speculation, more information emerged about the decision to bench Butler, a Patriots starting cornerback, during Super Bowl LII.

According to ESPN’s account, “Butler and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia traded heated words at practice over the former Super Bowl hero’s lack of effort. Butler was demoted.”

A battle between Matt Patricia and Malcolm Butler was reportedly what led to Butler's benching in Super Bowl LII.Steven Senne/Associated Press

At the team party after New England’s loss, Butler responded to teammates asking why he was benched by saying, “ ‘These dudes,” referring to the coaches, according to the book, ‘these mother [expletive].’ ”

Belichick and Eric Mangini: Amid the lingering feud between Mangini, a former Patriots assistant coach (then the Jets head coach), and Belichick, the two nearly got into a fight at the 2008 league meetings.

“After a dinner for head coaches, Julie Mangini, wife of Eric, bumped into Belichick and said hi, trying to ease tension after the post-Spygate fallout,” the ESPN article explained. “Belichick blew her off, and when she told Eric what had happened, he charged across the room and needed to be held back by other coaches from swinging at Belichick. ‘Hey Bill, [expletive] you!’ Mangini yelled.”