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ESPN oddly suggests Tom Brady, Bill Belichick could retire tonight

ESPN has many hours of pregame content to churn out on Super Bowl Sunday, and what sounded like a bombshell report this morning was part of it: Speculation that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick could both retire after tonight’s game.

As Dianna Russini of ESPN put it, “many in the league have been hearing” that Super Bowl LII “could possibly be both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s final games. Both could be hanging it up.”

Russini added that “Post game could be incredible tonight if this becomes truth,” suggesting that both men could actually announce their retirements tonight.

That seems extraordinarily unlikely. Despite a previous ESPN report indicating that friction between Belichick and Brady had grown palpable in the locker room during the regular season, both Belichick and Brady have said they’re on the same page, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said he thinks he has the best coach in NFL history and the best quarterback in NFL history and doesn’t want either of them to go anywhere.

In fact, the idea that Brady and Belichick could leave after tonight’s game doesn’t even make sense within the context of that previous ESPN report. According to that report, much of the friction in New England was based on a desire for Belichick to hold onto Jimmy Garoppolo, and a desire for Brady to stick around for many years without Garoppolo looking over his shoulder. But if Brady and Belichick were going to leave, why would either of them feel that way? If this were Brady’s last season, he’d have no reason to worry about Garoppolo being around in the years ahead. And if this were Belichick’s last season, he’d have no reason to care if the Patriots hold onto Garoppolo.

So we’re not buying the idea that both guys are leaving. Or that either guy is leaving. We’re expecting to see Belichick on the sideline and Brady on the field when the Patriots open the 2018 season in 31 weeks.