In just seven minutes, an era ended not only in New England, but in the entire NFL. In a short press conference, Bill Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft explained the reasons for the Pats’ coach’s departure, without taking questions from the press gathered at the team’s facilities.
The first to speak was Belichick, who began with a joke: “Haven’t seen this many cameras since we signed (Tim) Tebow,” he riffed upon entering the news conference. During his speech, in which his voice cracked at times, Belichick expressed his gratitude for the moments he had lived with the Pats: “Robert and I, after a series of discussions, have mutually agreed to part ways. For me, this is a day of gratitude and celebration,” Belichick said.
“I am very proud of everything we achieved, of the memories, they are things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” expressed the legendary coach. “I want to thank everyone, starting with the assistant coaches I had in all these years, great coaches with whom we achieved unforgettable things. I also want to thank the players, who were always first class. They are the greatest. Even if they didn’t win championships, I will always appreciate their dedication, professionalism and effort,” he added.
“And I want to thank the fans, who have been extraordinary. I have many memories with them, from Sundays on game day to the parades when we won championships. And finally I want to thank my family. I take great memories from here. I will always be a Patriot, but now we have to move on and think about the future,” he said.
Kraft, proud of their 24 years together
Pats owner Robert Kraft then spoke, hugging Belichick and thanking him for 24 years of working together: “Thank you, Bill. When I bought the team I had the highest expectations when I hired you in 2000. I think it’s safe to say we exceeded them because of you.”
“At heart, I will always be a sentimental sports fan. So this is a very emotional day for me. Some of my happiest moments were celebrated during Bill’s tenure here”, Kraft continued while praised Belichick’s leadership skills that led to the “unprecedented success.”
“He’s the greatest coach of all time,” Kraft said. “Which makes this decision to part ways so hard. But this was a move that we mutually agreed that was needed at this time. What Bill accomplished with us, in my opinion, will never be replicated.”
At the end, Kraft wished Belichick success in his future endeavors – except when he’s coaching against the Patriots: “It’ll be difficult to see him in a cutoff hoodie on (another) sideline,” Kraft said.
“Bill will always be recognized as a legend in New England and will be a member of the Hall of Fame along with the greatest,” he added.