Patriots

Bedard: To the end, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick each stayed true to themselves and didn’t budge

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It was a glorious gridiron partnership. So many victories. Six Super Bowl titles.

The ultimate competitors, there wasn't much Tom Brady and Bill Belichick couldn't achieve on the field when they were of like minds and focus. The game never saw anything like it before and likely won't again.

That ceased today, with Brady announcing he would not be returning to the Patriots after 20 years.

The destination for Brady is unknown and retirement can't be completely ruled out, but Brady's announcement seems like last-ditch effort to tell all NFL teams, "You still believe I'm going back to New England? I burned that ship. Anyone else want to inquire about my services other than the Bucs and Chargers? Last call, fellas."

Up until now, Brady and Belichick traveled the same competitive superhighway together. Cut from very different cloths and belief systems, they merged into a singularly focused machine obsessed with winning the next game, conquering all challengers.

But today of all days (on St. Patrick's Day with a nation in quarantine, fearful of what is about to come next), those roads diverged and the football marriage ended. The record will show Brady ended it, with his Monday night visit to Robert Kraft and his social media announcement the following day. But Belichick equally, if not moreso, had a hand in this dissolution with his detachment and unbending football beliefs.

In the end, Brady and Belichick each bet on themselves and stuck with their well-worn beliefs. For 20 years those were joint operations. With Brady entering next season at 43-years old, the way the quarterback and coach see success diverged, and they'll travel the rest of the way separately.

Brady wanted