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September 07, 2023

Ahead of Eagles opener against Patriots, Bill Belichick's breakup has New England execs on edge, report says

The longtime NFL coach and his girlfriend had been together since 2007, but Page Six reported that the couple had issues over the past year. Could this affect Sunday's game?

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Bill Belichick Breakup Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will enter Sunday's game against the Eagles after recently splitting with his longtime girlfriend, Linda Holliday.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reportedly has broken up with his longtime girlfriend just days before the Eagles kick off the 2023 season in Foxborough.

The 71-year-old Belichick and his ex, Linda Holliday, split after they were involved in a "drawn-out, back-and-forth breakup for nearly a year," Page Six reported Thursday. They had been together since 2007, and Holliday serves as the head of Belichick's foundation, which mentors and coaches athletes, communities and organizations.

The Eagles and Patriots will meet Sunday at 4:25 p.m. The Patriots are planning to honor the career of Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowls in New England during his sometimes tumultuous tenure under Belichick.

According to the report, Patriots executives are nervous about the situation because of past instances in which Holliday has made splashy comments on social media. When Brady left New England and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Holliday took a shot at the quarterback on social media and seemed to insinuate that he and Belichick were not on great terms. 

After the Bucs won a playoff game on the way to a Super Bowl victory, a fan commented on Holliday's Instagram, "Too bad Bill let Tom go." Holliday responded by minimizing Brady's performance in an earlier playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints, but wished him well.

"Tom didn't score last night … not once! Defense won that game. Were you even watching?" Holliday said. "(On the other hand) — I'm happy for Tom's career! Why can't you be?"

Holliday later said she was "exhausted" by the cruelty of responses on social media and was unapologetic about her remarks, which sources told Page Six did not sit well with Patriots executives. The team has missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, raising questions about how much time Belichick has to bring the Patriots back to contention. 

Belichick is entering his 24th season with the Patriots and is 19 wins shy of passing Don Shula's NFL record of 347 wins as a head coach. This will be Belichick's 49th season in the NFL and his 29th as a head coach. He's been a part of eight Super Bowl-winning teams, including the Patriots 24-21 win over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.

The Eagles returned the favor in Super Bowl LII, earning their first Lombardi Trophy by taking down Belichick and Brady in a 41-33 nailbiter. They are looking to return to the Super Bowl for a second straight year after their crushing 38-35 loss to the Chiefs in February.

Despite the drama in Belichick's personal life, he gave compliments to quarterback Jalen Hurts when asked earlier this week about preparing for the Eagles. He told New England reporters there was no good way to simulate Hurts' talent in practice.

"You're talking about arguably the best player in the league, or one of the top two or three best players in the league," Belichick said. "Nobody has anybody that can be him, and if they do, that guy's probably not playing on the scout team for that team anyway."

Belichick has a reputation for being gruff and unflappable. It's possible that his breakup is a distraction for him on Sunday, but it's doubtful New England reporters would risk harming their relationships with Belichick by asking prying questions. The Eagles' coaching staff will just have to keep him on his toes.