Ahead of his first-ever game against Tom Brady, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Friday credited Brady with being integral to his success in New England.
When asked by a reporter if he would have experienced the same level of success as Patriots head coach without Brady, Belichick responded, "Of course not."
Dov Kleiman @NFL_DovKleiman
Bill Belichick, who has a losing career record without Tom Brady, was asked if he believes he would have had the same level of success without Brady? <br><br>Belichick: "Of course not."<br><br>"There's no quarterback I would rather have than Tom Brady. I was very lucky to have Tom." <a href="https://t.co/HlNKgBok0P">pic.twitter.com/HlNKgBok0P</a>
Belichick also said there is "no quarterback I would rather have" than Brady and called himself "very lucky" to have coached Brady for two decades.
Brady, who left the Pats to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason, will lead the Bucs into Foxborough for a clash with the Patriots on Sunday night.
Leaving the only franchise he had ever played for was a leap of faith on Brady's part, but it undoubtedly worked to perfection, as Brady and the Bucs beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, adding to the six Super Bowls and four Super Bowl MVP awards he won in New England.
While Belichick and Brady were in the midst of winning six Super Bowls together, a hot topic of conversation often related to who was more responsible for the Patriots' success.
The scales now seem heavily tipped in Brady's favor, since he won a Super Bowl with the Bucs last season, while the Pats went 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
Also, Tampa is off to a 2-1 start this season, while New England is 1-2 and in significant danger of falling out of realistic playoff contention with a loss to Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday night.
Late in Brady's tenure with the Patriots and since the time he left the franchise, much has been made of his relationship with Belichick as well.
In a new book written by ESPN's Seth Wickersham entitled "It's Better to Be Feared," the Brady-Belichick dynamic is explored, as are the reasons for Brady leaving the Patriots.
Wickersham notes in the book that Brady wanted to go somewhere that gave him more input and also wanted to see "if there was another way of winning."
It was also written in the book that Brady told those close to him as early as in 2017 that he no longer wanted to play for Belichick.
For his part, Brady has had nothing but good things to say about Belichick and the Patriots publicly, especially this week when he told reporters his split with the organization was handled "perfectly" and that he had a "great relationship" with Belichick and the Pats.
As if Brady returning to New England wasn't a juicy enough storyline, it is also likely he will break Drew Brees' career passing yardage record in the game since he is only 68 yards away.
Buccaneers vs. Patriots and Brady vs. Belichick is one of the most highly anticipated regular-season games in quite some time, and regardless of the result, there will be no shortage of talking points coming out of it.