Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff explained why Bill Belichick is the ‘lead dog’ in the NFL community

"The strut’s still the same strut."

Thomas Dimitroff
Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff speaks at the NFL football scouting combine in February. –AP Photo/Darron Cummings

At the NFL owners meeting in February, a group of general managers from across the league gathered for a discussion. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sat in on the meeting and left the other GMs wondering what the man with eight Super Bowl rings thought of the rest of them.

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, who spent six years in New England before joining Atlanta in 2008, relayed the story to NBC Sports’ Tom Curran.

“We have a lot of very talented and very intelligent people in that room but you can just feel his energy,” he said. “Guys who aren’t really that moved by a lot of people in the industry either because they’ve been around it a long time or were quickly indoctrinated into the job, it was interesting to watch.

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“When he did get up to leave and then we packed up after, there was a little [conversation] about, ‘I wonder what he thought about that. I wonder what he thought about us as a group of general managers.’”

The Falcons general manager is the son of former Boston Patriots quarterback Tom Dimitroff. He worked for the grounds crew in Cleveland when Belichick was the head coach of the Browns in the early 90s, before re-joining Belichick and Scott Pioli, now the Falcons assistant GM, in New England in 2002. Dimitroff rose to director of college scouting before departing for the GM job in Atlanta.

“I don’t see him slowing down at all,” Dimitroff said of Belichick. “The strut’s still the same strut as it was when I was in New England.”

The Patriots head coach is heading into his 45th season in the NFL. Dimitroff lauded his institutional knowledge about the game and the league, noting that Belichick approaches rule changes with a critical eye and does not “go along with something just because it’s league-directed.”

“I saw him recently at the owners meetings and he is ON TOP of it,” he told Curran. “He is the lead dog, no question about it. He has strong opinions, he delivers them succinctly and articulately when he’s discussing what’s important to him and it’s fun watching him navigate through all of that.”

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Dimitroff, who had to deal with a Super Bowl defeat to his old boss in 2017, noted that there is no one more engaged than Belichick in the lengthy league meetings.

“I think people might expect him to be less engaged as he acquires more and more rings and more and more accolades, my feeling is that it’s part of giving back to the game that he loves so much,” he said. “A lot of people would kick their feet up and relax a little bit but I really do believe that he’s continuing to help us out.”