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Bill Belichick lobbied for more time with players

New England Patriots Practice

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 02: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during a practice session ahead of Super Bowl LI on February 2, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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There was a high degree of self-congratulation at last week’s owners meetings in Phoenix, as the league embarks on its 100th season.

But Patriots coach Bill Belichick took the opportunity to tell the meeting about ways he thinks the league can be even better — specifically to give coaches more time to work with players.

According to Mike Reiss of, Belichick spoke up during one meeting which included coaches and General Managers, and said that the focus needs to be on improving the game, which can be done with more time to work with players. The last collective bargaining agreement carved five weeks from the offseason program, and coaches have been complaining about it ever since.

“It has a tremendous amount of weight,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Belichick bringing it up. “There’s so many positive things that could come out of it, in terms of development of young players, helping to really make sure these guys are learning the game and getting them ready for their opportunity

“Keeping players in a structured atmosphere, there are so many tools we have in terms of player development, it makes so much sense that the sooner we can get them and work with them, the better it will be.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was likewise supportive, calling Belichick “one of the soothsayers” of the league.

“I’m in total support of his position,” Carroll said. “There’s so much down time for these guys. I think there was a time when older players were bargaining for these breaks when they thought less was better. But these guys [today] love the game and want to be part of it. And we love coaching and helping them.

“The game would just be better if we were able to do that, and if we were in connection with them more, they would be healthier as well — we could monitor their well-being. You don’t even have to mandate that. Just give them the option.”

Many times owners will let coaches have their say, and pat them on the head and send them out for a round of golf and do as they please. But perhaps there’s a chance that after listening to coaches on the topic of expanded replay, they’ll be more open in the future for things they believe are for the good of the game.