Brady, Belichick, Kraft: Patriots' Big 3 not going out like this - as Super Bowl losers

Josh Peter
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Bill Belichick felt the sting of a third Super Bowl loss on Sunday in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — This is not how it will end.

With Tom Brady consoling his three young children outside the New England Patriots’ locker room. With Bill Belichick failing to figure out how to stop a backup quarterback. With Bob Kraft leaving a Super Bowl and no Lombardi Trophy to cuddle.

End it will for Brady, Belichick and Kraft. But not with the Patriots quarterback, Patriots head coach and Patriots owner looking like this in 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

With Brady fumbling in the final minutes. With Belichick looking shellshocked as it ended. With Kraft holding his solemn face in his faces as it all unraveled.

It might end sooner than expected for the Big Three, to be sure. But this is not how.

The speculation about how long the three will remain intact can be traced back to a Jan. 5 ESPN story. The story that alleged a power struggle and friction between the three men — the nucleus of a franchise that had won five Super Bowl championships since 2000.

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That was the year Kraft hired Belichick as head coach and Belichick and the Patriots’ front office drafted Brady in the sixth round. The year no one could have imagined what would manifest and, then, that if might actually end.

Sunday, it was easy to forget about all the chatter as the Patriots were in position to win yet another Super Bowl ring. Brady rallied them from down 10 points. Belichick prowled the sidelines looking as unflappable as his quarterback. Kraft lorded over it all like the king of NFL owners from a suite at U.S. Bank Stadium.

And then it collapsed. A Brady fumble. A Brady Hail Mary unanswered. Belichick, comically laconic to begin with, seemingly at a loss for words. Kraft speeding past reporters and out the stadium as if running a fly route to safety.

Asked if he would return next season, Brady, 40, replied, “I certainly hope so.’’

Then he expounded on the Super Bowl, having reached the game eight times and having won it five times.

“If you want to be world champions, you have to play in this game. …Today we had our opportunities. Never really got control of the game. Never really played on our terms. Just didn’t make plays when we needed to.’’

It’s important to note that before the season began, a filmmaker captured a moment in which Brady turned his wife, Gisele, and said, “Two more Super Bowls. Two more.’’

It was embedded in episode No. 5 of the Facebook docu-series “Tom vs. Time,’’ and rest assured the sixth and and last episode will include footage of Brady talking about another trip to the Super Bowl.

By contrast, Patriots fans can take comfort in how little Belichick said. “Of course it’s disappointing,’’ he replied when a reporter asked about New England’s failure to make-second half adjustments, and that’s not the way Belichick, 65, is going to walk away from the best coaching job in sports.

Kraft? Well, in 1994, he bought the Patriots for $175 million. Today the estimated value of the team is more than $3 billion.

Kraft is not a stupid man. Only a stupid man would let the Big Three break up now.

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