FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick's Friday press conferences have become a time when it's OK for members of the media to go a little bit off the board in their questions. By then, the game plan has been installed and the majority of the team's preparatory work is done for that week's game. Belichick is typically relaxed and is willing to be expansinve on a variety of topics.
This Friday was no different, and at the end of a back-and-forth with the media that lasted about 25 minutes, Belichick was asked about the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The nominees for induction as part of the Class of 2017 were announced on Thursday, and on the list of 94 names, there were 11 that belonged to coaches. Of those 11, only two made their most significant contributions in the NFL as assistants: Richie Petitbon (defensive coordinator for the Redskins from 1981-92) and Clark Shaughnessy (Bears defensive coordinator from 1951-62).
Belichick has worked on many different staffs over his more than 40 years in the NFL and he's praised the work of many of his assistants during his head-coaching runs in Cleveland and New England. He was asked for his thoughts on the importance of having talented assistants, and whether or not he felt as though coaches in those positions were under-represented in Canton.
His reply was indicative both of his respect for those who toil behind the scenes and of his feelings on the Hall of Fame voting process.
"Assistant coaches have a huge impact on a football team," Belichick said. "They make a tremendous contribution. I don't think any head coach can really be a good head coach without good assistants. We just don't do enough coaching. There's a lot of meting rooms and a lot of instruction going on in there and the head coach isn't in very many of those rooms -- if any at all.
"Certainly working with the entire team, I'm not saying there's not a role for the head coach, but the individual instruction that the position coaches and coordinators give, and their guidance and direction and play-calling on the team is obviously paramount. It's critical.
"The Hall of Fame is a tough one. It's like, I don't even know what the criteria is for the Hall of Fame. You got guys that have played 15-to-20 years and aren't in the Hall of Fame. You have guys that have played four or five that are and vice versa. You have guys that have had great short careers that aren't, and guys that have had OK long careers that are. You have guys that haven't won championships that are, you've got guys that have won a lot of championships that aren't. I don't know. What are we basing it on? I don't know.
"Assistant football coaches Hall of Fame? Probably would be a worthy discussion, but do you want to slight them relative to the other contributors. I don't know. You've got different sets of rules for everybody, too. Players, coaches, contributors. I don't understand it. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it.
"But what little I know about it, it's pretty confusing to me. I have no idea what the criteria is. I think you talk to people who have been in that room, which I'm sure you guys have, sounds like there's a lot of confusion in there too about who we're voting for, what we're voting on, how much of it's political, how much of it's a campaign trail. It's not really my thing -- the whole process, I'm saying. It's not really my thing."
Belichick will certainly be enshrined into the Hall of Fame at some point. But the process by which he's voted in? From the sounds of it, he won't be interested.