More than three weeks ago, the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick parted ways. Today, the first Sunday without football in the NFL since the Sunday after Labor Day, Belichick issued an official message of thanks to Patriots fans.
in Full page message Shown on A3 of Boston Globe“, Belichick acknowledged those who have supported the team during their 24 years on the job.
“Nowhere in America are professional sports fans as passionate as they are in New England, and for 24 years, I've been fortunate to feel your passion and intensity,” Belichick says. “The Patriots are the only NFL team that represents six states but in reality, Patriots Nation knows no borders.
“I braved the weather, attending sweltering training camp practices and facing the coldest, wettest, snowiest and windiest days in Foxboro.
“Your thoughtful messages provided support, criticism and suggestions for creative play. You watched on TV, online and from your seats at the stadium.
“I have traveled coast to coast and internationally. Many times, I passed opposing stadiums and was the last fan standing. We loved it! You have given your valuable time, resources and energy to our team. We appreciate it!
“Six times, you packed Boston by the millions in marches that were truly a two-way expression of gratitude and love. The images of those days are seared in my memory.
“Maybe you enjoyed my fashion sense and press conferences, or maybe you just tolerated it.
“I've loved coaching here, and we've had some amazing moments together.
“thank you all.”
The letter was printed just days after the 2024 recruiting cycle ended with Belichick not taking any of the seven open positions. He was only interviewed for one of them, in Atlanta. Others (leaders) reportedly considered going after him. Still others (reportedly the Eagles, and possibly the Cowboys) have considered hiring him if they fire their current coaches.
Nothing about Belichick is non-strategic. The timing of the thank you speech likely came after finding out where he will or will not be coaching next year. Since he will now have to wait until 2025 to resume his quest for Don Shula's all-time record for most wins, Belichick needs to close New England's book in a way that makes it more likely that another team will open their doors to him.
It's smart to show love to the fans. Fans will be skeptical of Belichick, given his recent record. He has to be able to win over the fans in order to win the job — especially since people in any given NFL organization who already have jobs in football operations are going to be hypersensitive about the prospect of Belichick showing up and taking over, whether it's because of his job. His title or usual way of doing things.
The next step for Belichick will be to find a way to stay in the game through 2024. He will have plenty of opportunities in the media. He will need to choose strategically. How can he reach the largest number of people? How can he make the best impression? How can he reflect the narrative he has?HorribleInterpersonal skills and that his “military system” of training no longer works? How can he create a sense not of possibility but of inevitability that he will land one of the jobs that will be open after the 2024 season?
This is his challenge for the remaining 11 months of 2024. His mission. His only way back to doing it was to do it for nearly five full decades.
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