NFL

Belichick and Brady 'needed each other', says former Patriots safety Harmon

By Sports Desk January 15, 2024

Former New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon has credited Bill Belichick with helping Tom Brady become the greatest player in NFL history, saying the legendary duo "needed each other".

Belichick and the Patriots parted ways last week, bringing an end to one of the most remarkable coaching tenures in league history.

The 71-year-old led the Patriots for 24 seasons, overseeing 18 playoff visits and taking the team to nine Super Bowls, winning six of those showpiece games with the most recent coming in 2019.

However, New England missed the playoffs in three of their last four seasons under Belichick, prompting team owner Robert Kraft to replace his long-serving coach with former linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.

Some have suggested Belichick's failure to win a Super Bowl without Brady diminishes his achievements somewhat, with the coach's overall NFL record without the quarterback standing at 85-102, but Harmon does not subscribe to that view.

"I think both those guys are motivated by one thing; being the best they can each and every day," Harmon – who played for Belichick's Patriots between 2013 and 2019 – told Stats Perform.

"Tom's job would be to be the best quarterback and rally his team. Bill's job was to be the best head coach and rally his team as well, and to make sure the coaches understand his vision so they can pass it to the players and put the best product on the field. 

"It's easy to try to put those two against each other, but I think at the end of the day, they needed each other. 

"They understand that they couldn't have accomplished what they accomplished in New England without each other.

"I think there's a great amount of respect that they have for each other. I'm still grateful and appreciative that I got to be around the greatest quarterback and the greatest head coach of all time."

Brady did manage to win one more title after he and Belichick parted ways in 2020, collecting his seventh ring by leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to glory at Super Bowl LV.

Harmon does not believe Brady was motivated by a desire to prove he could succeed without Belichick, saying: "I truly don't believe he needs any extra motivation. 

"This guy wanted to be the best player that he can be every day, whether it was with the Buccaneers, whether it was with the Patriots, he just wants to get the best out of himself every day. 

"I don't think it was, 'I want to prove I could do this without Bill', I think more so it was just him going to Tampa and doing what he does. 

"The thing that people don't realise, and I know Tom was always a great competitor, but the cultural style that came from Bill to him is what I believe gave him that extra motivation, that extra push to make Tom truly who he is. 

"As a young player, when he first took from Drew Bledsoe [in 2001], it was a very veteran-based team, so he wanted to gain the respect of not only the players, but also Bill Belichick. 

"Bill pushed him as best he could to be the best that he could be, and in the end, he became the best ever."

Having won three Super Bowls in six years in New England, Harmon is uniquely placed to offer an insight into the relationship between Belichick and Brady at the height of the Patriots' dominance.

"It was like yin and yang. It was Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson. Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson," he recalled.

"I was fortunate enough to be captain one year with the Patriots and saw how they interacted in the captains' meeting and how they were always on the same page. 

"There were times when Bill got on Tom in front of everybody, and it wasn't to demean Tom, but it was to let everybody know that there is a standard in this organisation, it doesn't matter who you are, whether you're the best player or you're the last guy on the practice squad. 

"Seeing those guys work together allowed me to see what that head coach-quarterback partnership is supposed to look like at the highest level."

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