It’s only June yet the Patriots have already found a way to lose a Lombardi. Get it? Like the trophy? But it’s NOT the trophy. It’s Mike Lombardi, longtime consigliere to Bill Belichick, who is pulling up stakes after two seasons with the team, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
During the time Lombardi was officially with the team, he was credited with turning the team on to Dion Lewis and Brian Tyms, a pair of former Browns that Lombardi was familiar with from his brief time as Cleveland’s GM. Lombardi was also in Cleveland with Jabaal Sheard, who the Browns drafted in 2011. The Patriots considered Sheard in the second round that year but went with Ras-I Dowling instead.
PFT’s Mike Florio speculates that Lombardi – who has toggled between front office jobs and the media since 2008 – may land at HBO.
Reiss reports that the split is “amicable.” If that’s indeed the case, given the longstanding relationship between Lombardi and Belichick, there’s little reason to think Lombardi won’t continue to be a non-staff consultant/sounding board going forward.
In February 2012, when Lombardi was working for NFL Network, he was present at the Patriots Saturday Super Bowl walkthrough, a gathering normally reserved for team staff, players and family. He worked four years with Belichick beginning in 1992 when Belichick took over as Browns head coach.
Lombardi eventually went to the Raiders and had a good run, helping build the team that lost to the Patriots in the 2001 Snow Bowl and to the Bucs in the 2002 Super Bowl. But by 2007, things had gone sideways in Oakland and Lombardi was fired in May. That dismissal came soon after Randy Moss was traded to the Patriots, a move Raiders owner Al Davis said was a favor by Lombardi to Belichick.
Davis, in a side session with reporters after a memorable, September press conference during which he used an overhead projector to back up his reasons for firing head coach Lane Kiffin, circled back to Moss.
“You know how many teams turned [Moss] down? That guy in Green Bay [Ted Thompson] thought he couldn’t run any more. Even Denver, where they’ll take anybody, turned him down.
“But what’s his name knew he could run, he’s a friend of Belichick’s. Mike Lombardi,” said Davis. “Mike sold what’s his name, Belichick, on the idea that he could run. They tampered with him. I remember Bob Kraft saying that he had to look him in the eye and all that. They went down and worked him out, he could run. He’s their team, of course, with the quarterback.”
Asked why Lombardi was taking shots at Davis after Lombardi’s dismissal, Davis said, “He was with me eight years. Mike Lombardi has been fired from every job he’s had. Every job. He can’t get a job. Last year he was fired from a job he was working for for nothing. He was fired from Denver. But he does have ability. He does have some ability. But he was bad to [Raiders coach Art] Shell. Not necessary. You can’t get that in an organization, somebody in the organization bad-mouthing the coach. … But it’s tough, you know. It just wasn’t right. Shell was… been here all his life. I just… would stick up for him, so both of them had to go.
Lombardi denied Davis’ claim, adding that it only made sense to explain Moss could “still run” since the Raiders were trying to deal Moss.
Lombardi was very accessible to the media prior to joining the Patriots but – after being hired – seemed anxious whenever he was near reporters and would avoid eye contact. He did seem to warm over the past few months, though.