FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots were thrilled to have a five-time champion with them at practice this week.
Not Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant.
With their quarterback skipping organized team activities along with tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium for offseason workouts this week. After Bryant visited the team on Wednesday, several New England players noted the similarities between him and Brady.
“They’re both highly competitive guys,” defensive back Devin McCourty said Thursday. “I think everybody sees that.”
Although the Patriots wouldn’t elaborate on what Bryant said to them, McCourty came away impressed with his attention to detail with everything involved in basketball — not just shooting, but practice and working out and his relationship with his teammates.
Several Patriots posted pictures of themselves with Bryant on social media on Wednesday. Belichick said he has a lot of respect for the 2008 NBA MVP and thought his team could learn from meeting him.
“It was a cool experience,” running back James White said. “It’s an honor to meet a guy who’s one of the greatest athletes of all time.”
Of course, White knows another guy like that.
But Brady has reportedly been working out with his personal trainer instead of with his teammates. A three-time NFL MVP who will turn 41 in August, Brady is said to be upset with coach Bill Belichick over his attempts to speed up the succession plan at quarterback and move Jimmy Garoppolo into the starting job before Brady was ready to give it up.
Garoppolo was traded to the San Francisco 49ers midseason, reportedly on a mandate from owner Robert Kraft.
“(No.) 12 is a big part of this team, and he means a lot to us in the locker room. But as far as the culture goes, it’s always been ‘next man up,’” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said. “We’re not going to work harder just because 12’s not here or because Gronk’s not here. … Whenever he gets back, we’ll be glad to have them both, but it’s not going to stop us from working.”
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