Tom Brady paid tribute to Bill Belichick, the long-time head coach of the New England Patriots with whom he had so much success, after the 71-year-old announced on Thursday that he is leaving the team after 24 seasons at the helm.
Brady was drafted by Belichick and the Patriots with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL Draft, and together, they formed the most threatening head coach-quarterback duo arguably in NFL history over the next two decades.
They won six Super Bowl titles together, as they both cemented their statuses as the best at their respective positions in NFL history.
And hours after Belichick’s press conference in which he confirmed he was leaving New England, the 46-year-old Brady paid his respects to the former Patriots coach.
“I’m incredibly grateful to have played for the best coach in the history of the NFL,” he wrote on Instagram.
“He was a great leader for the organization, and for all of the players who played for him. We accomplished some amazing things over a long period of time, many of which will be hard to replicate. He worked every day to help us achieve the ultimate goal, in the ultimate team sport.
“And, although we were successful, some of the greatest lessons I learned were in the moments where we faced the most challenging adversities. He set the tone for the organization to never falter in the face of adversity, and to do what we could do, and what was in our control, which was to go out and DO OUR JOB.”
Brady added that he “could never have been the player I was without you Coach Belichick. I am forever grateful. And I wish you the best of luck in whatever you choose next.”
In pictures: Legendary NFL coach Bill Belichick
Belichick’s departure from New England leaves a seismic vacuum in his wake, with the organization searching for its first head coach since the turn of the millennium.
However, according to multiple reports, Patriots owner Robert Kraft might not be waiting around to make a decision.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and The Athletic citing unnamed league sources on Thursday, Jerod Mayo – a Patriots assistant since 2019 and former New England player – is the leading candidate to replace Belichick.
Mayo played eight seasons for the Patriots as a linebacker, being voted to the Pro Bowl twice and winning the Super Bowl in 2015. He has coached the linebackers portion of the New England defense since 2019.
Former Patriots player Mike Vrabel – who was also fired as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans earlier this week – has also been linked to the head coach opening in New England.