Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bruce Arians were planning to play golf together during the team's bye week, perhaps on multiple occasions, until the NFL notified the team that it would be in violation of the league's protocols, league sources told ESPN.
Brady and Arians therefore did not get to play golf together as they had planned -- at a time when speculation about their relationship has persisted. Despite the ongoing narrative that Brady and Arians haven't gotten along, multiple sources within the organization have insisted the opposite.
"They really get along great," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht told ESPN this weekend. "There's a deep respect there for each other."
Another source well familiar with the Brady-Arians dynamic told ESPN: "That is just way overdone ... way overdone," when asked about questions regarding their relationship.
Evidence is in the form of the free time the two were planning to spend together until the league stepped in, which confused some around the organization and league. Brady and Arians are allowed to stand next to each other on the same practice field for hours, yet they were prohibited from playing golf together and riding in separate carts.
These rules are part of the stringent COVID-19 protocols that the league has enacted to ensure that the season continues unabated. The protocols have generally worked; on Friday, a day in which cases across the country were spiking, there wasn't a single NFL player or coach who tested positive for the coronavirus, a league source told ESPN.
Brady and Arians were scheduled to play Old Memorial in Tampa on the Wednesday morning of the Bucs' bye week on Dec. 2, according to sources. They had a tee time set up to play with Bucs quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen and former Tampa Bay star Ronde Barber, according to sources, before ultimately canceling the outing.
The Buccaneers (7-5) had their bye in Week 13 and return Sunday to begin the stretch run, during which their schedule sets up favorably.
Tampa Bay hosts the Minnesota Vikings (6-6) on Sunday and has a road game against the Atlanta Falcons (4-8) in Week 15. The Bucs visit the Detroit Lions (5-7) in Week 16 before concluding their regular season with a home game against the Falcons.