Kraft Furious Over Brady Retirement Snub, Says Former Patriots Linebacker

We had Spygate, and we had Deflategate. And now we apparently have Instagate.

The one doing the instigating on his Instagram page was Tom Brady. And while most of New England pondered and debated what to make of Brady’s retirement post Tuesday morning that thanked pretty much everyone on the planet except for anyone connected to the New England Patriots, owner Robert Kraft apparently had no illusions.

According to former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, who played from 1995-04, Kraft threw a fit on Tuesday when he read Brady’s retirement post, which made no mention of Kraft or the Patriots while thanking all aspects of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his trainer and agent, and his family.

Appearing on NBC Sports Boston’s “Boston Sports Tonight,” Johnson, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots during his career, cited sources inside the Patriots’ front office as he described the scene Tuesday morning.

“I was told earlier [Tuesday] that it was an unpleasant day today at the executive offices in Foxboro, and that Robert Kraft, initially, when he first heard the news, was very upset,” Johnson said.

“Screaming and yelling” at the Patriots’ executive offices after Brady’s post dropped

Johnson described an enraged Patriots owner, lashing out over what he, and many others, perceived as an intentional snub of him and his team. Brady left the Patriots as a free agent, after playing in New England for the first 20 years of his career, after the 2019 season.

“He was screaming and he was yelling and there was a significant temper tantrum that he threw after he read this IG post,” Johnson said. “So, he was not happy about it in Foxboro, and I’m not surprised.”

It probably didn’t help that the image Brady chose to accompany the post wasn’t of him hoisting any of his seven Super Bowl trophies. Rather, it was a shot of Brady celebrating the Buccaneers’ victory over the Patriots in Foxboro this past season. Just another slight dig at his former team?

Always conscious of PR spin, Kraft apparently saw the snub clear as day

The same day that Kraft lost his temper in private, Kraft and the Patriots each put out social media posts congratulating Brady on his retirement and thanking him for his years in New England. Brady responded to the team’s tweet that carried Kraft’s statement.

“Thank You Patriots Nation” Brady wrote with a heart emoji. “I’m beyond grateful. Love you all.”

That is the public-facing image Kraft very much wants to be put forward, Johnson said. And that is why Brady’s perceived slight was so triggering in private.

“I’ve known Robert for a very long time,” Johnson said. “He very much cares about [public relations]. He very much cares about how he is perceived. He very much cares about the people he cares about, how they feel about him. The deepest cut of all for him is to not be mentioned in that Instagram post. I know that hurt him deeply.”

Kraft’s decision to let Brady walk as a free agent in 2020 is apparently still a sore subject

Perhaps trying to at least mollify any Patriots fans who were left smarting by his New England-absent post on Tuesday, Brady put out a social media post with a video montage of his entire career and a message that closed, “I love you all. Thank you ALL for making this incredible journey possible.”

But if Brady was trying to send Kraft and Belichick a message on Tuesday, it was likely a byproduct of the team not making, in Brady’s mind, enough of an effort to re-sign him after becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season.

There has long been speculation that Belichick was ready to move on from Brady as early as 2017, but Kraft stepped in and forced Belichick to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo instead. But when the time came in 2019 for the Patriots to give Brady the contract he felt he had earned, especially after taking deals below his market value throughout his Patriots career, Kraft balked, and Brady left for Tampa.

“He’s really got no one to blame but himself,” Johnson said of Kraft. “If you listened to Tom Brady before the 2019 season, going into training camp, when he was asked about his contract, he’s like, ‘Go ask Mr. Kraft.’ Robert Kraft could have intervened and he didn’t.”

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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