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Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick debate ‘stupid,’ Rodney Harrison says

The former Patriots safety says the franchise’s historic run was a team effort.
Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws the ceremonial first pitch as coach Bill Belichick watches prior to the Boston Red Sox's 2015 home opener. Former Patriot Rodney Harrison says the talk about who was more responsible for the team's success is "stupid."
Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws the ceremonial first pitch as coach Bill Belichick watches prior to the Boston Red Sox's 2015 home opener. Former Patriot Rodney Harrison says the talk about who was more responsible for the team's success is "stupid." [ ELISE AMENDOLA | Associated Press ]
Published Sep. 29, 2021

As the Bucs-Patriots showdown looms and the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick deliberations percolate, at least one prominent former Patriot has a candid thought on the quarterback-coach story line.

“I think it’s stupid, okay?” former New England safety Rodney Harrison said.

Harrison, a commentator for NBC’s Football Night in America (which will carry Sunday’s uber-hyped contest), offered that response when asked during a media teleconference Tuesday who deserves more credit — Belichick or Brady — for the Patriots dynasty that won six Super Bowls over two decades.

“I think it’s disrespectful,” Harrison said. “Not only is it disrespectful to Tom and Bill, but it’s disrespectful to all those great players that came along that were part of those championship teams because, at the end of the day, it wasn’t Bill and Tom versus everybody else. It was an entire team.

“Tom’s a tremendous player, and Bill’s a tremendous coach, but none of that stuff happens without the other players. So that’s where I stand at it. It’s not about Bill.”

Former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison pulls down New York Giants receiver David Tyree (85) following Tyree's helmet catch during the Super Bowl 42 in 2008 in Glendale, Ariz.
Former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison pulls down New York Giants receiver David Tyree (85) following Tyree's helmet catch during the Super Bowl 42 in 2008 in Glendale, Ariz. [ ELAINE THOMPSON | Associated Press (2008) ]

A two-time Pro Bowler in nine seasons with the Chargers, Harrison signed with the Patriots in 2003 and helped them to a pair of Super Bowl crowns in six years. He earned first-team All-Pro honors his first season in New England, when the Patriots won the second of their six titles.

“Nobody ever questions who’s more responsible for the Indianapolis Colts’ success, Coach (Tony) Dungy or Peyton Manning?” Harrison added.

“And Peyton left, and he won another Super Bowl with a different team (Denver). It baffles me that people can sit back and actually say, ‘Well, Tom’s more responsible or (Belichick) is more responsible.’

“It’s like (Belichick) gave Tom an opportunity to play. He saw something in Tom that no one else could see, and he gave Tom an opportunity. He believed in Tom. If he didn’t believe in Tom, Tom wouldn’t be passing Drew Brees’ (career passing yardage) record coming up this week. But (Brady) had arguably the greatest coach of all time that believed in him, saw something that no one else saw in him. So I would just be careful with all those comparisons and who’s better and this and that.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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