Belichick on Hall of Fame selection process: 'I have no idea what the criteria is'


Belichick on Hall of Fame selection process: 'I have no idea what the criteria is'

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. 

'Leprechaun' Gronk dropping more hints about future plans - sort of

'Leprechaun' Gronk dropping more hints about future plans - sort of

Rob Gronkowski, decked out in his finest St. Patrick's Day duds over the weekend in Nashville, reportedly tried to shed some light on his NFL future.

Of course, while Gronk was doing Gronk things, he told a Patriots fan one thing and a reporter another.

Breech is an NFL writer for His father is former Cincinnati Bengals kicker Jim Breech. And the "69ers" aren't a real team.


AFC East is starting to prepare for post-Brady life

AFC East is starting to prepare for post-Brady life

The Patriots' "direction" never really changes. They're always "going for it" because they're always one of the best teams in the league. 

The rest of the AFC East is usually in flux. The other teams range from hoping for 8-8 to trying to bottom out in hopes of a high draft pick. Yet right now, it seems the stars are aligning and that the Jets, Bills and Dolphins all have the mindset: Change things now and be ready to pounce once Brady is gone. 

The Jets traded up to No. 3 on Saturday, assuring themselves a chance at one of this draft's top quarterbacks. The Bills, with picks Nos. 12 and 22, are expected by pundits to make a similar move up. The Dolphins, fresh off cutting bait with Ndamukong Suh in an attempt at a culture change, have the 11th pick and could use it on a quarterback to either push or replace Ryan Tannehill. 

None of the three teams are close to pushing the Patriots as long as Brady's around, even with the Bills coming off a season in which they reached the playoffs. Yet there's a two-or-three-year plan on which all three teams could have designs: Get the quarterback now, build around him and be in a good situation by the time Brady is done. 

We've seen these teams try to rebuild before during the Brady Era, with only limited success. Mark Sanchez worked out better in New York than anyone could have initially expected, but that success lasted way shorter than any believers could have hoped. Now, it seems they try again. 

Over in Buffalo, the end of the Tyrod Taylor era hardly means the beginning of the Nathan Peterman era. Those two first-rounders should easily be able to get the Bills into the top five, and they've also got two second-rounders and two third-rounders. Hell, they have the pieces to get to No. 1 if Cleveland is bold enough to pass on their choice of Darnold/Rosen/Allen/Mayfield. 

The Dolphins are in the more interesting spot. Tannehill missed all of last season and he's 29. If you're six years into your career and your team still isn't totally sure if you can be one of the better QBs in the league, you probably aren't one of the better QBs in the league. At the very least, Lamar Jackson should be there at No. 11. They could also trade up. 

At the start of last season, the Patriots had far and away the two best QBs in the AFC East. Now, it stands to reason that at least two of their divisional opponents (the Jets and Bills) will come away with what they hope are franchise quarterbacks. And if any of these guys hit, the Pats will have gone from the best QB situation in the NFL to seeing some actual competition waiting for them by the time their own quarterback is done. 

Of course, all three of these teams usually suck at everything, so it shouldn't be a big deal.