MOBILE, Ala. — Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is “the best player in NFL history,” according to coach Bill Belichick.
In a statement issued Wednesday, a day after Brady announced his retirement, Belichick thanked Brady for his contributions to the Patriots over the two decades he spent in New England.
“I am privileged to have drafted and coached Tom Brady, the ultimate competitor and winner,” Belichick’s statement read. “Tom’s humble beginning in professional football ultimately ended with him becoming the best player in NFL history. Tom consistently performed at the highest level against competition that always made him the No. 1 player to stop.
“His pursuit of excellence was inspirational. Tom was professional on and off the field, and carried himself with class, integrity, and kindness. I thank Tom for his relentless pursuit of excellence and positive impact on me and the New England Patriots for 20 years.”
The ultimate competitor.— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 3, 2022
Statement from Bill Belichick on Tom Brady: https://t.co/vYpiKZEKDG pic.twitter.com/mOsgSJsuEk
In turn, Brady reposted the statement on his Instagram and thanked Belichick.
“I appreciate being coached by you the Greatest Coach in NFL History,” Brady wrote.
Belichick coached Brady for 20 seasons, winning six Super Bowl titles. The pair advanced to the postseason 16 times, including eight straight conference championship game appearances.
Their relationship reportedly turned frosty toward the end of Brady’s tenure, partly a result of the tension surrounding trainer Alex Guerrero’s role. But the two never slung mud publicly and have exchanged kind words via news conferences since Brady’s departure.
When Brady announced in March 2020 he was signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Belichick issued a lengthy statement, calling Brady one of the “original creators” of the Patriots’ program.
Then, when the Buccaneers visited Gillette Stadium in Week 4 this past season, Belichick met Brady in the visiting locker room for an extended period. The details of the conversation were “personal,” Brady said at the time.
In addition to Belichick, many Patriots past and present have celebrated Brady’s career since his retirement announcement. Owner Robert Kraft also issued a statement, calling Brady’s career “a dream come true” for Patriots fans.
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.