It's been more than a year since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick split.
There's still more than a week until their first on-field meeting, but that doesn't mean we can't start talking about what went down in New England. Brady's father began the conversation this week, saying his son felt vindicated by his Super Bowl LV triumph with Tampa Bay after leaving a franchise he believed didn't want him anymore.
Brady's personal trainer, business partner and close friend Alex Guerrero offered some needed clarity on the matter. Guerrero spoke at length with the Boston Herald, offering a more logical explanation for why Brady departed the only franchise he'd known.
"The interesting thing I think there -- and this is just me, an outsider looking in -- it was like Bill never really... I think his emotions or feelings never evolved with age," Guerrero told the Herald. "I think in time, with Tom, as Tom got into his late 30s or early 40s, I think Bill was still trying to treat him like that 20-year-old kid that he drafted. And all the players, I think, realized Tom was different.
"He's older, so he should be treated differently. And all the players, none of them would have cared that he was treated differently. I think that was such a Bill thing. He never evolved. So you can't treat someone who's in his 40s like they're 20. It doesn't work."
Guerrero found his name mentioned in the same breath as Brady and Belichick during the quarterback's final few years in New England, with the trainer and confidant being painted as a source of division between the coach and signal-caller. It was reported Guerrero's methods, which powered the TB12 brand, didn't align with the Patriots' more traditional way of doing things. By the end of Brady's time in New England, Guerrero wasn't even allowed on the Patriots' sideline.
Brady was asked about Guerrero's comments during his Thursday media session.
"Great respect and admiration for my time there," Brady said. "I had 20 great years there. I kind of spoke that the last 18 months. …
"Everyone has protective feelings and emotions as friends and family members, and that's just part of being in sports. And you have a lot of people who because they're not out there, they want to protect, and it's a very caring and loving thing that a lot of people do. From my standpoint, I had a great time (in New England), but really my focus has been on trying to be the best that I can be for this team. Trying to go out and be a winning quarterback, be a championship-level quarterback for this organization because they certainly deserve it."
Brady and Belichick were able to win a couple more titles before they split. But if you've noticed Brady has become a more open, personable and accessible player since leaving New England, you aren't alone.
Instead of keeping everything close to the vest, Brady has opened up during his time with the Bucs. He's almost aging in reverse, playing about as well as ever, and that Florida sun isn't hurting him, either.
"This place, we have so much fun here. We have a great time," Guerrero said of Tampa. "They're great here. Ownership is great. The coaching is great, the management is great."
Everything's great for Brady's bunch. Belichick's battalion is still trying to get back to the playoffs. They'll face off in a week.