Robert Kraft Reportedly Ripped Bill Belichick During Call With Falcons Owner; Patriots Deny

A new, explosive report from ESPN indicates Robert Kraft played a role in Bill Belichick not getting hired by the Atlanta Falcons this offseason.

The bad blood between New England Patriots legends Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft might be worse than anyone realized.

On Monday, ESPN published a bombshell report about Belichick’s failed job hunt this offseason and his hopes for landing a coaching gig in 2025. The report also shares insight into how Kraft might’ve prevented Belichick from getting hired by the Atlanta Falcons.

Why the Falcons Didn’t Hire Bill Belichick

We’ll get to the Kraft stuff in a bit. First, some important context.

The Falcons interviewed Belichick multiple times for their head coaching vacancy. At multiple points, he was viewed as the favorite for the job. But the job ultimately went to Raheem Morris, a move that “blindsided” Belichick, according to ESPN.

In fact, the Falcons didn’t have Belichick ranked among their top three candidates — Morris, Mike Macdonald, and Bobby Slowik were the top three — and granted him a second interview “largely out of respect.”

But why?

It’s complicated. Morris, a great candidate, reportedly “blew away” Falcons brass during his interviews. However, the spurning of Belichick also has much to do with fears over the coaching legend potentially assuming too much power, concerns he sought to ease during interviews.

“A source familiar with the Falcons’ thinking said neither (CEO Rich) McKay nor (general manager Terry) Fontenot wanted to work with Belichick,” ESPN wrote. “Their concerns mirrored those of the Eagles: If you hire Belichick, he will inevitably run the team, even if he doesn’t demand total control.”

ESPN added: “They viewed Belichick as ‘an older, stoic coach who’d blow up the building’ and wouldn’t likely stay beyond two years after he sets the all-time wins record, a source said. Also, (Falcons owner Arthur Blank) hates coaching searches and he would have to do another.”

The Falcons reportedly also had reservations about Belichick hiring long-time Patriots assistants, such as Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, and Joe Judge.

“The executives also were concerned about the staff Belichick would bring with him, including assistants who had worked with him in New England and who had struggled on their own,” ESPN wrote. ” … At one point, Blank asked Belichick why his charges had failed elsewhere. Belichick replied that he thought they were better soldiers than generals.

“The source close to Belichick said the coach had concerns about the Falcons’ roster and would have needed his most trusted former assistants to execute a quick turnaround. He told one confidant that the Patriots’ lackluster performance in recent years was because some of those former assistants had left.”

All along, Belichick reportedly believed he was the top candidate. And, again, he made it a point to downplay fears over his military-like approach to running a franchise.

“In the pair of interviews with Blank and Falcons executives, sources said, Belichick pledged his willingness to co-exist with Falcons executives under this new paradigm,” ESPN wrote. “In fact, he insisted he just wants to coach.”

But, behind the scenes, Falcons executives weren’t buying what he was selling — and Kraft might be to blame.

Robert Kraft Reportedly Gave Belichick a Bad Review to Falcons Owner Arthur Blank

Belichick and Blank met shortly after Belichick officially parted with the Patriots. The meeting reportedly went well, and Blank was “very impressed” with Belichick, who showed “no rust.” But everything changed from that point forward.

Here’s arguably the most explosive excerpt from ESPN’s story:

“Despite that friendly first session, the unthinkable happened for a billionaire and a legendary coach: Blank and Belichick checked each other’s references. Blank spoke by phone, at least twice, to Robert Kraft. Among the NFL owners, Blank considers Kraft his closest friend. Publicly, Kraft and Blank have said Kraft expressed only support and offered praise of his former coach.

“But in a conversation with Blank, Kraft delivered a stark assessment of Belichick’s character, according to a source who spoke to two people: a close Kraft friend and a longtime Belichick confidant. The source quoted the Belichick source as saying, ‘Robert called Arthur to warn him not to trust Bill.’ That account was backed up, the source said, by the close Kraft friend.

“Multiple sources said that Kraft spoke with ‘some candor’ to Blank about Belichick, though the sources declined to elaborate. One source close to Belichick said Kraft ‘was a big part’ of why the Falcons passed on hiring him.

“The sources said Kraft made clear to Blank that ‘you’ll never have a warm conversation with’ Belichick, echoing what Bill Parcells told Kraft in 1996 when he wanted to bust the budget and hire Belichick. ‘Blank likes coaches who feel part of a family,’ a Falcons source said, ‘and it wasn’t going to be that way with Bill.'”

ESPN added that, for months, Kraft had told confidants he’d “lost trust” in Belichick. “[Kraft] found Bill to be extremely difficult and obstinate and kind of stubborn and, in the end, not worthy of his trust,” a source close to Kraft told ESPN, “And also very, very, very arrogant.”

That same source said Kraft and his son, team president Jonathan Kraft, felt “betrayed” by Belichick, but wasn’t sure whether Robert warned Blank about trusting Belichick. “I don’t think they’d try to hurt Belichick,” the source told ESPN, “But I don’t think they’d try to help him either.”

Kraft has also faced criticism for his negative remarks about Belichick during Apple TV’s “The Dynasty” docuseries, which many — including Patriots players — believe paints Belichick in a negative light. Kraft recently distanced himself from the show but didn’t directly answer questions about how the program portrays his former head coach.

Patriots Deny Report About Kraft Condeming Belichick During Call With Blank

Stacey James, the Patriots’ vice president of media relations, strongly denied ESPN’s report about Kraft condemning Belichick while speaking with Blank.

“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.”

However, James conceded that Kraft might’ve been critical of Belichick while speaking with Blank before January.

MORE: Current NFL Head Coaches

“It would not surprise me to learn that owners sometimes lament to those close to them when their teams are struggling,” James said. “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.”

A Falcons spokesperson declined to comment when reached by ESPN, instead pointing toward Blank’s public comments about Kraft endorsing Belichick.

What’s Next for Belichick?

ESPN reported that Belichick saw varying degrees of interest this offseason from the Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Washington Commanders, and Philadelphia Eagles, among others.

If Belichick coaches again — some close to him reportedly believe he won’t — the future Hall of Famer, preferring to stay in the Northeast, will eye potential openings with the Cowboys, Eagles, and New York Giants.

In the meantime, Belichick reportedly will soon join Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions company in an undisclosed TV role. Previous reports indicated Manning was hoping to team Belichick with Nick Saban on an alternate college football broadcast inspired by ESPN’s “ManningCast.”

KEEP READING: Malcolm Butler Benching — Robert Kraft Reveals Key New Detail on Patriots Controversy

Belichick is reportedly also working on a book that will focus on football leadership and business rather than serving as a tell-all memoir.

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s all-new Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls — lone wolf or with your friends!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles