Patriots

Bill Belichick ‘passionately’ advocated for rule changes at the NFL owners meetings

"When Bill grabs the mic, all of us are paying attention."

Bill Belichick
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks to the media during the coaches breakfast at the 2019 annual NFL owners meetings. AP Photo/Matt York

At the NFL coaches breakfast, Bill Belichick was typically tight-lipped with the media. The Patriots head coach apparently shed that persona for the rest of the owners’ meetings and his fellow coaches appreciated his advocacy efforts.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports that Belichick “passionately chimed in” as coaches and general managers were briefed on the league’s accomplishments, saying something along the lines of, “While it is nice to hear good things, the focus should be on how it can be even better.”

Belichick’s proposal was to give coaches more time to work with players in the offseason. The 2011 collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and its player union reduced the offseason program overall by five weeks, eliminated two-a-days, and forbade coaches from talking to players about football before the programs begin in April.

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Seahawks coach Pete Carroll joined the chorus of coaches backing Belichick on the issue, describing the eight-time Super Bowl champion as a “soothsayer.”

“I’m in total support of his position,” Carroll told ESPN. “There’s so much down time for these guys. I think there was a time when older players were bargaining for these breaks when they thought less was better. But these guys [today] love the game and want to be part of it.”

Carroll emphasized that more offseason work would produce a better product on the field and produce healthier players since teams could monitor their well-being. He offered that the new sessions could be optional.

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Saints coach Sean Payton also praised Belichick at the meetings in Arizona.

“When Bill grabs the mic, all of us are paying attention,” Payton said. “You’re not only paying attention to a Hall of Fame coach, but you’re paying attention to history and someone who is able to reference some things we haven’t gone through.”

Elsewhere in Phoenix, several anonymous NFL owners spoke to USA Today about Robert Kraft. The Patriots owner, who faces two misdemeanor charges in Florida for alleged solicitation of prostitution, attended the meetings but did not address the media.

One owner described Kraft’s situation as “awkward” against the backdrop of league business, while another said, “I’m not going to judge. We all make mistakes.”

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