For someone who has never been officially employed by the New England Patriots, Alex Guerrero has become a big figure in the Patriots’ dynasty.
Guerrero, famous for being Tom Brady’s personal trainer, appears to be at least in some way involved in what appears to be some friction between the Patriots and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald wrote that coach Bill Belichick “chastised” Gronkowski for being a client of TB12, the sports therapy center that Brady uses and was co-founded by Guerrero, in front of the other Patriots players last season. Guregian speculated that perhaps that was Belichick’s way of keeping all players from leaving the team’s training staff for Guerrero, and it might be the source of friction between the Patriots and Gronkowski, who still hasn’t officially said he won’t retire (though there’s no clear sign he’ll step away this offseason). NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran said earlier this offseason Gronkowski felt “singled out” over the Guerrero issue. Mike Giardi of NBC Sports Boston said Brady and Gronkowski were “miserable” last season and a lot of it was over the Guerrero issue.
See the tight end and his coach through the years:
Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick together
Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick together
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 29: New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and head coach Bill Belichick arrive to a Patriots rally held to send the team off to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Jan 29, 2018. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots reacts with head coach Bill Belichick after catching a touchdown pass during the third quarter of a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 3: New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) argues his case to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, and an on field official after an altercation involving Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White during the fourth quarter. The New England Patriots take on the Buffalo Bills in a regular season NFL football game at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY on Dec. 3, 2017. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots, left, and head coach Bill Belichick during a practice session ahead of Super Bowl LI on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia stand for the playing of the national anthem before the start of NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on October 30, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 20: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke to tight end Rob Gronkowski as the Patriots held an afternoon practice at the practice field at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Sept. 20, 2016. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots speaks to Rob Gronkowski #87 in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 16: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski gets a high-five from coach Bill Belichick after he made a touchdown in the third quarter. The New England Patriots hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski gets a pat on the shoulder from head coach Bill Belichick following a first quarter reception. The New England Patriots visited the Houston Texans in a regular season NFL football game at NRG Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
4/23/15 - The White House- Washington DC President Barack Obama welcomes 2015 SuperBowl Champions, The New England Patriots to the White House. Robert Kraft, Owner, Bill Belichick, Head Coach and players Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski,and Devin McCourty answer questions from reporters after the ceremony. photos by: Christy Bowe- ImageCatcher News (Photo by ImageCatcher News Service/Corbis via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots hugs Rob Gronkowski #87 after defeating the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 1: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, right, gets a pat from a smiling head coach Bill Belichick, left, after the game. The New England Patriots hosted the Buffalo Bills in an NFL regular season game at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD - NOVEMBER 13: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick helps up tight end Rob Gronkowski after he was knocked out of bounds following a fourth quarter catch. The New England Patriots visited the New York Jets in a regular season NFL game at MetLife Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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The Guerrero-Belichick dynamic isn’t new. Last season, Guerrero has his sideline access revoked and was told he couldn’t treat players other than Brady at the team’s headquarters anymore. The memorable and explosive ESPN story about the tension between Brady, Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft in early January spent a lot of time on Guerrero. In the story, his presence was seen as being divisive among players. They didn’t know whether to use Guerrero or the team’s medical and training staff.
And Gronkowski is in that web too.
Gronkowski expressed after the Super Bowl that he might retire. Since then, speculation has gone in many directions, mostly because Gronkowski hasn’t really said anything and the Patriots never say anything substantial. Gronkowski has taken a lot of punishment in his career, and that probably weighs on him. Perhaps he wants a pay raise, and that would fix everything. We’ve seen offseason drama get fixed very easily with money. But it seems there are some issues between the team and its star tight end. None of the drama mattered much last season, as the Patriots came a couple minutes away from winning another Super Bowl. Belichick calls out players all the time, that has been well established. But the Guerrero issue seems to be looming over the Patriots longer than most people could have assumed.
Perhaps this is just another offseason story and it won’t ultimately matter to how long Gronkowski plays or how many games the Patriots win. But if Gronkowski ends up retiring still within his prime, whether that’s this offseason or a couple years from now, there will be interesting questions about what drove him away.