A key injury to the Patriots had a huge impact off the field as other players were forced to pick sides in a growing power struggle

  • ESPN's Seth Wickersham wrote a bombshell report describing tensions among the New England Patriots' leadership.
  • One example occurred when Julian Edelman went down with injury, and players who wanted to fill the gap reportedly faced a dilemma of choosing between working out with the Patriots' trainers or Tom Brady's health guru.
  • Despite the struggle, the Patriots' offense suffered little on the field, with yet another dominant season that helped secure the top seed in the AFC.


The New England Patriots have been the most dominant franchise in American sports over the past two decades, but a report from ESPN's Seth Wickersham revealed that all might not be well with the Patriot Way, as a clash of egos has been ongoing among team leadership.

One of the central sources of this tension is the divide between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. That split reportedly caused some confusion among Patriots players as to where to train and how that could have been perceived as picking one side over the other.

Much of the trouble started when wide receiver Julian Edelman went down with a season-ending injury, leading to what Wickersham described as an "unspoken pressure" among Patriots players. While the "next man up" mantra that the Patriots have long touted still held, those looking to take the spot of Edelman were torn on what their best path would be if they wished to take over the role.

"[T]here was 'hypersensitivity' among players, in the words of a Patriots coach, over who would take his place. New players felt the surest way to earn Brady's trust was to join Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and others by seeking advice from [Alex] Guerrero at his TB12 clinic -- and not team doctors, which Belichick preferred."

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Julian Edelman through the years
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Julian Edelman through the years
FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman stiff arms a Houston Texans player during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Sept. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
KENT, OH - SEPTEMBER 30, 2006: Quarterback Julian Edelman #11 of the Kent State Golden Flashes throws a pass during a game against the Akron Zips on September 30, 2006 at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio. Kent State won 37-15. (Photo by: Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20: Dwight Lowery #21 of the New York Jets attempts to tackle Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots at Giants Stadium on September 20, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs for yards after the catch against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Ravens won 33-14. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH - NOVEMBER 21: After the Patriots Julian Edelman (#11) returned a third quarter punt return 72 yards for a touchdown that put New England ahead 24-3, he got congratulations from head coach Bill Belichick, with special teams coach Scott O'Brien waiting his turn at far left. The New England Patriots hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in a Monday Night Football NFL regular season game at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 11: Wes Welker, left, and Julian Edelman during practice as the New England Patriots prepare for their upcoming game Sunday against Seattle. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots catches a pass before a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman looks for some yardage after a second quarter catch. The Jets Antonio Allen is in pursuit at left. The New England Patriots take on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots makes a catch during play against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 24-20. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 celebrates with wide receiver Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots after scoring against the Denver Broncos during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 8: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates the game-winning touchdown with Julian Edelman #11 in the 4th quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 15: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball past the attempted tackle by Chris Clemons #30 of the Miami Dolphins on December 15, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 24-20. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 27: Patriots player Julian Edelman spoke to fans and members of the media after practice. The New England Patriots training camp continued at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, July 27, 2014. (Photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 22: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 talk on the sideline in the fourth quarter against Carolina Panthers in a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 05: Julian Edelman #11 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots run onto the field before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 26: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs on to the field before the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots throws a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola #80 during the second half of the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 27: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots addresses the media at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day Fueled by Gatorade inside U.S. Airways Center on January 27, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 and Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots celebrate after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the trophy ceremony after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 4: Julian Edelman does his touch down spike as fans cheer along the parade route during New England Patriots Super Bowl victory parade. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots looks on during warm ups before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 11: Wide receiver Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots dives into the endzone to score on a 59 yard touchdown reception against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half of the NFL game at AT&T Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 8: New England Patriots' Julian Edelman signals first down in after a 7-yard reception in front of Washington Redskins' Will Compton during first quarter action. The New England Patriots hosted the Washington Redskins in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots reacts after defeating the Miami Dolphins 31-24 at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
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While Guerrero, the controversial trainer that runs the TB12 clinic and was recently banned from the Patriots sidelines, denied that any players were pressured to join the program, Wickersham's report makes clear that the choice of facilities left some players in an incalculable Catch-22.

"But according to multiple sources, players openly discussed with Patriots coaches, staff and trusted advisers whether to follow Brady or the team, leaving them trapped: Do we risk alienating the NFL's most powerful coach or risk alienating the NFL's most powerful quarterback?"

Still, the tensions didn't seem to affect the Patriots on the field performance all that much this season — New England finished the season 13-3 with the top seed in the AFC, and Brady had yet another MVP-caliber under center.

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SEE ALSO: Bombshell report reveals a growing fracture among Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Patriots — and it stems from Alex Guerrero, Brady's health guru

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