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. 

Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

It's simple, really. If the Patriots are going to avoid staying home again after the Wild Card Round of the playoffs next season and seasons to come, they've got to get younger.

And to get younger, they've got to be more successful in the draft.

In the latest edition of Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, Curran and Phil Perry focus on the last time New England was sent home this early in the playoffs a decade ago and if there can be lessons learned from that roster reboot in 2010. 

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The biggest issue confronting the Pats this time around is their age, which averages 31.6 years old (a 42-year-old quarterback skews that a little, of course). By comparison, the Super Bowl 54 opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs (26.8) and the San Francisco 49ers (26.6) are considerably younger.

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The age factor is why, as Perry pointed out, "the pressure is on for them to hit not only in this 2020 draft, where they do have 12 picks, they have no second-round pick, but 12 shots at the dartboard. Last year, they had 10 [picks] and nine guys are still with the team.

"It's clear they have told themselves, 'We need to get younger. We need to start hitting here if we want to sustain this success.' The draft is the lifeblood of any team."

The 2018 team and its victory in the Super Bowl over the Rams last February worked to hide some of those flaws from recent low-yield draft classes.

"They had a great quarterback when they needed him. They had a Hall of Fame quarterback when they needed him. The defense looked tremendous we know how that story played out," Perry said. 

What kind of draft yield are we talking about to fuel the next generation of Patriots' success?

Curran goes on to rattle off the names from 2008-2012 drafts (Mayo, Slater, Edelman, Vollmer, Butler, Chung, Gronkowski, McCourty) that fueled the second half of the Pats dynasty.

"I have upwards of 30 names from 2008 to 2012 who were contributing players to the Patriots. I'm not even talking a little contributing, but massive contributing...," Curran said.  

There's also a discussion of how the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady will impact the 2020 draft strategy. Listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.


That 617 Life Podcast: Patriots' ties to a Pats-less Super Bowl

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That 617 Life Podcast: Patriots' ties to a Pats-less Super Bowl

The Patriots may have been missing from the NFL's Championship Sunday, but that didn't stop them from being mentioned and having their former personnel play prominent roles in the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

Whether it was former Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel coaching the Tennessee Titans against the Kansas City Chiefs or former New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo helping the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers to reach Super Bowl 54, the Patriots continue to be a talked-about team. 

On the latest edition of the "That 617 Life" podcast, Leroy Irvin, Shanda Foster and Cerrone Battle discussed how the Pats still loomed over the games on Sunday.

"You can not say anything bad about the Patriots because we are always constantly producing talent," Foster said. "I think this is the perfect testament to Bill Belichick."

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Battle said it speaks to the dominance of the Patriots the past two decades that connections to their former players and staff are now all over the league.

"That's what happens when you win," Battle said. "When you win, everybody wants a piece. They want your waterboy. Look at the new head coach of the Giants [Joe Judge, the former Patriots special teams and receivers coach]?... When you're good for 20 years eventually you're going to have your roots all over the league. After years and years of success, I'm not shocked by it."

Irvin and Foster said instead of lamenting a rare NFL Final Four without New England, Pats fans should be grateful.

"I wish Patriot Nation would grow up," Irvin said. "By that I mean I'm tired of seeing on social media people just crying and complaining, 'Oh it's boring without the Patriots.' We've had almost two decades of excellence. We're not there. Get over it."

Said Foster, "I was grateful more than anything. Filled with gratitude. We may never see a run like this again."

In his "Hot Takes and Cold Cuts" segment, Battle says those crowning the Super Bowl 54 opponents as the next dynasties might want to pump the brakes a little. 

"First thing I heard [after the games] is, 'Kansas City they're gonna be around for years and San Francisco they're gonna be around for a long time. They're gonna be contenders forever,' " Battle said. "That was the story all day. 'What is anybody gonna do about these teams next year?' What are they gonna do next year? Not even worry about them. Why? Because this is the Not For Long League. The NFL. Every year, the teams that were hot the year before are never guaranteed to be hot the year after that. Unless you're the Patriots."

The crew also gives their reactions to the new Aaron Hernandez Netflix documentary. It's all in this week's "That 617 Life" podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast network. Click here to listen and subscribe.