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Super Bowl LI: To Tom Brady, Bill Belichick a big part of his success

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick hold trophy after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 36-17, in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Credit: AP / Matt Slocum

HOUSTON — Tom Brady’s longevity can be traced, in part, to his restrictive diet that’s free of caffeine, sugar and dairy. But the 39-year-old also credits his football success to the relentless drive of one other person: Bill Belichick.

“His style, I think, is very conducive to just getting the best out of me, so I think it’s a good fit,” the Patriots quarterback said Thursday.

“He doesn’t give very many compliments out. He coaches us hard, and there are some throws that I make — you throw it 50 yards down the field, hit the guy in stride and I’m like, ‘Damn, that was a pretty good throw.’

“And I look back at him and he’ll be looking for the next play,” Brady added with a smile.

“That’s just his style. He has a very high level of expectation. He’ll say all the time, ‘I hope my expectation for you guys isn’t better or more than your expectation for yourself.’ And I think those types of things really challenge his players to be at our best every single day, to never take the opportunities for granted and to try to keep reaching a higher level as the season goes.”

Together, they’ve formed perhaps the greatest quarterback-coach tandem in NFL history, building a dynasty in New England. With Brady and Belichick leading the charge, the Patriots have reached seven Super Bowls in the past 16 seasons and won four championships.

On Sunday, they have a chance to secure their fifth against the Falcons.

Not surprisingly, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is in no rush to see the Brady-Belichick union end.

Asked how long he’d like Belichick, 64, to remain as his coach, Kraft said, “As long as he’d like to.

“I’m very happy with him. We’ve been together 17 years. I like it when I hear him say, when you ask him that question, he said he’s getting paid to do what he loves. We’ll try to keep it like that.”

Brady laughed when asked who he believes will walk away from the game first — he or Belichick.

“That’s a good question,” Brady said. “I don’t know what he plans on doing. He’s the best. I’ve been very lucky to play for him. He’s so focused on coaching and doing anything he can to help us win. There’s no B.S. with Coach Belichick, and I think that’s what players appreciate.

“When you come into the program, you realize it’s all about football. It’s not a bunch of rah-rah crap that’s not going to matter and has no bearing on preparing you for a game but it’s just coaches screaming louder and louder, thinking that’s going to emphasize some sort of point,” Brady said of Belichick, whom he called a disciplinarian.

“I think Coach does a great job of, every week, putting urgency on the team and making us understand that we’re going up against a very competitive team that could beat us if we don’t play the way that we should play. Every week he’s so consistent. And I think that’s a great thing for us as players to have a leader like that who brings it every day, whether that’s April or early February.”

Their shared love of football and quest for perfection are unique. It also leaves many wondering if either of them eventually will retire.

“I hope not,’’ Kraft joked. “At least as long as the good Lord lets me breathe, I hope they’re playing or coaching. It’s been such a treat.”

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