National Football League
Robert Kraft reportedly warned Falcons 'not to trust' Bill Belichick
National Football League

Robert Kraft reportedly warned Falcons 'not to trust' Bill Belichick

Published Apr. 17, 2024 10:54 a.m. ET

The Atlanta Falcons' decision to pass on Bill Belichick during the coach hiring cycle came as a surprise to many, but his former employer might have played a hand in preventing him from getting the job.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Falcons owner Arthur Blank that if he were to hire his former head coach, he was "not to trust Bill," ESPN reported Wednesday. Kraft also told Blank that he'd "never have a warm conversation" with Belichick as he felt "betrayed" by the six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach over the final seasons of his 24-year tenure with the Patriots, according to ESPN. Additionally, Kraft believed that Belichick was "extremely difficult" to work with and that the coach was "kind of stubborn" in addition to being "very arrogant" as he viewed the coach was "not worthy of his trust," according to ESPN.

Patriots spokesperson Stacey James denied on Kraft's behalf that he spoke poorly of Belichick to Blank during the hiring process, but might have said some negative things prior to the Falcons' hiring process.

"Robert steadfastly denies saying anything negative to Arthur Blank about Bill Belichick after Robert and Bill mutually agreed to part ways," James told ESPN. "In fact, Robert advocated for Bill to get the job."


"It would not surprise me to learn that owners sometimes lament to those close to them when their teams are struggling," James added, "but Robert Kraft never questioned Bill's character or trust when talking with Arthur Blank. Trust is important to Robert. He wouldn't have employed Coach Belichick for the past 24 years if he ever questioned his trust."

The report from ESPN comes over three months after Kraft and Belichick agreed to "mutually part ways" following a 4-13 season, officially ending one of the greatest runs in NFL history. It also comes two months after the debut of the Apple TV+ docuseries "The Dynasty," which covered the Patriots' historic run but has been criticized by former players for being too negative on their former head coach.

Kraft admitted in the series that he had tough moments with Belichick, especially toward the end of Tom Brady's tenure with the team as the quarterback's relationship with the head coach deteriorated. 

"To be honest, my head coach is a pain in the tush," Kraft said in the docuseries. "But I was willing to put up with it — as long as we won."

Why Bill Belichick is portrayed as 'Dynasty's' antagonist

As for whether Kraft's reported comments caused Belichick to not get the Falcons gig, a person close to the head coach believed the Patriots owner was a "big part" in that not happening, ESPN reported. However, Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and CEO Rich McKay didn't want to work with Belichick as they were concerned over how much control he'd have over the team, according to ESPN.

The Falcons eventually hired Raheem Morris after interviewing a whopping 14 candidates for the role, with the former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator unanimously being the first choice to fill their head coach vacancy, ESPN reported.

Belichick's future in football remains uncertain. He's reportedly shown interest in a television analyst job but also still wants to coach as he's 15 wins away from breaking Don Shula's record for the most in NFL history. He's told people close to him that the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants are among the teams he's interested in coaching, ESPN reported.

Belichick came to fame during his tenure as a defensive coordinator with the Giants, helping New York win two Super Bowls under Bill Parcells in 1986 and 1990. Belichick is also friends with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told ESPN that he checked in with the coach to see how he was doing following the head coach's exit from New England.

All three teams could have head coach vacancies next offseason. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy and Eagles coach Nick Sirianni outlasted hot seat rumors following disappointing ends to their seasons while Giants coach Brian Daboll had an underwhelming Year 2.

However, Belichick will be 73 at the start of the 2025 NFL season, and the Falcons were the only team he interviewed with after leaving the Patriots.


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