With the NFL playoffs about to start, those who love to hate the New England Patriots will love to read a lengthy new ESPN story about trouble at the very top of the organization. The story by Seth Wickersham wonders whether this is "the beginning of the end" for the trinity of Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft. "Those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group." The growing friction has a number of causes, but the main one seems to revolve around Brady's personal trainer and business partner, Alex Guerrero. He and Brady have teamed up on a controversial "TB12" training regimen, and Wickersham reports that players on the team are torn on whether to follow Guerrero's advice or the more old-school training advice of Belichick.
"Bill's answer to everything is to lift more weights," Brady reportedly said dismissively (the piece notes the TB12 approach favors the use of "stretching with bands" and focusing on "pliability"). Also at play is the future of 40-year-old Brady, said this season to be chafing more than ever at the gruff coaching style of Belichick. The story maintains that Kraft forced Belichick to trade up-and-coming QB Jimmy Garoppolo to show the team's commitment to Brady, depicting the trade as the culmination of a power struggle won by the quarterback. In response to the story, a statement from the team complained of "several inaccuracies and multiple examples given that absolutely did not occur," without providing specifics. Don't expect elaboration until after the season ends, if it comes at all. Click for the full story, which has more details on the "TB12" rift in the locker room. (Read more New England Patriots stories.)