Robert Kraft: This is a great day for the New England Patriots. I'm very excited to introduce to you our new head coach Bill Belichick. He's a man who has intimate knowledge of our team, he has intimate knowledge of our AFC East division, and he understands our competition better than anyone I know. He also is a man who is respected throughout the NFL. People devise defensive schemes based on what he has done as we saw with the Tennessee Titans playing Indianapolis, but most importantly, I like him a lot and I believe he's the most capable person at this point and time to help us win next year. We want to win next year and I believe we have the man that's going to help us to do that. It's my honor and pleasure to introduce Bill Belichick.
Bill Belichick: Thank you. Hopefully this press conference will go a little better than the last one I had. First of all, I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. I know it's late and short notice. I know the last three weeks have probably been trying for all of you, but that's all behind me. I'm tremendously excited to be here, to be a part of the New England Patriots organization. This is a first class operation. I've had an outstanding experience in 1996 when I was here with the Patriots and with Robert and I'm thrilled to be part of this organization and to be able to have the opportunity to lead this team. The opportunity to be in coaching was something that I wasn't sure that I would have as late as 24 hour ago, this year. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to have this chance to coach in the 2000 season. I'm thankful that things have worked out the way they have. It was quite an ordeal, but it's behind me and it's in the past and I'm focused on the future. I'm focused on the Patriots football team, the players, trying to get with the staff, the organization and trying to move as quickly as we can to make up for the time that has been lost between now and the end of the season where other teams have had a chance to move along.
As many of you know who have covered me and followed my career my basic philosophy on defensive football and overall in terms of winning football games is to have a strong, tough physical, both mentally and physical team and to try to be as well prepared as we possibly can for all situations that will come up in the course of the game and in terms of preparing for the game and for the season. As quickly as I can put those things into place here that's what I'll do. The shopping list is quite a long one, but the staff, speaking with the members of the current staff, coaching staff considerations, players, salary cap issues, personnel issues. Free agency is right around the corner. There's a lot of things that need to be done in a relatively short amount of time and I'm going to look as hard as I possibly can to get those things done efficiently and in a manner which will give our football team the best opportunity to win. That's all I really am about is trying to win football games.
I think the commitment by the Patriots toward winning and Mr. Kraft, is I know a very strong one. I've experienced that here in the one season that I was with the Patriots. I have tremendous respect for him and his commitment to winning. It's exciting to me to be part of the Patriots heading into a new stadium and a little bit of a new era with regard to the playing venue and that's a big thrill as well. So again I express my appreciation to Mr. Kraft for the confidence that he's shown in me and really I can't wait to start working as hard as I can to reward his confidence and not let him down. I'll be happy to take any questions.
Question: Does your knowledge of the Patriots from being here for one year does that help you get in motion, get started quicker than if you were to take over another team?
Belichick: Probably it would. I think that three years in football is a longtime and even though some of the players I'm familiar with from three years ago, I probably have a better knowledge of those players from competing against them more recently, but I'll try to evaluate everything I can, as fairly as I can and take what the players have done and what their opportunities and potential is and commitment is and try to assess it as quickly as I can and try to move forward. I think we have some very tough decisions coming up with regard to personnel and the salary cap and free agency and so forth. I met with the organization before I came down and tried to quickly introduce myself to them and talk a little bit about the coming few weeks and also I met with Bobby Grier about the personnel. We're going to have another series of meetings starting tomorrow, so I'll try to get on that as quickly as I can.
Q: When you resigned as head coach from the Jets is this what you had in mind?
B: No not at all. When I resigned from the New York Jets I was just not comfortable with the situation that I was in with the Jets and that's basically the extent of it. I didn't know where I was going or what I was doing, but I couldn't commit to them at that time and that's basically it. I covered that ground and I'm ready to turn the page and move on. I have no animosity toward the Jets. I have no hard feelings. Business is business, I did what I had to do, they did what they had to do. There was a slight disagreement about our contract, my contract, which isn't the first time that's happened in professional football, but it's time to move on and I've done that.
Q: To follow up to that, Bill Parcells said in his conference call that the "border war" between the two organizations was over do you tend to agree with that?
B: My whole perspective on it is just about winning football games. I don't know about border wars and all that, all I know is when I was with the Patriots in 1996 we tried to beat the Jets and when I was with the Jets the last three years we tried to beat the Patriots and now that I'm with the Patriots we're going to try to beat the Jets next year and all the other games on the schedule. So, that's what it's about for me, it's not a personal thing. When some team comes into this stadium our job is to beat them and when we go into their stadium our job is to beat them their and that's what my preparation and focus will be towards.
Q: Are you director of football operations as well and will you have final say over who else gets hired in the front office?
B: I'm the head coach and I spoke with Robert about the organization. We're going to have further discussions about the structure of the organization and I think he'll address those questions later on.
Q: You came at the price of a number one draft pick this year, how much has that set you back?
B: Well it's something that we'll have to work around. It's one less opportunity that we have, but we'll have to work a little bit harder and be stronger and be more committed to overcome it.
Q: Were you prepared to sit out the one year and in your heart how relieved are you now to have this thing done?
B: Well, I'm relieved to have everything behind me. I was, 24 hours ago, prepared to sit out the year. I was prepared to sit out the year when I resigned. I'm relieved and gratified that things have worked out positively, but again I just had to do what I had to do in New York, that's the way I felt and so I did it.
Q: There were some mistakes that you made coaching in Cleveland what have you learned in your years since then and what will help you be a better coach now?
B: I think that's a very fair question. The two biggest things that I feel that I've learned from the previous coaching experience and through 25 years of coaching would one be to delegate more, previously I think I've maybe tried to do too many little things. Too many things that maybe took away from bigger picture things that I should have been doing and secondly I've learned that as much as the game is played on the field and it's extremely important to do everything right when you reach the football field in order to win in this league, there are also a lot of things on the periphery and outside off the field that are also important towards winning and I'll put more time and effort into making sure those things are right for the organization maybe than I did previously.
Q: Is Charlie Weiss part of the deal?
B: I'm trying to act on the coaching staff as quickly as I possibly can. I have a lot of decisions to make and people to talk to and I'll get all of that as quickly can, as soon as I have something to report to all of you on that I will. There's a lot of people for me to consider, a lot of really good coaches out there, a lot of good coaches are on this staff that I know and have a lot of respect for. I'll try to take into consideration as much as I can, as quickly as I can, but I've got to make a decision and I'll get that to you as soon as I have something for you.
Q: You were talking about delegating matters more does that mean that you will leave personnel matters to someone else?
B: This is no one-man band here, I can't play all of the instruments. There are a lot of good people in this organization, and there are a lot of resources, people that I have worked with three years ago that are still here and I'm sure a lot of new faces who I've heard a lot of good things about and I'm looking forward to working with all those people in the organization on all different matters coaching, personnel, organizational and football operations matters. I'll take as much help and as many resources as I can to do the job and it's going to take everybody's commitment to winning for us to get the job done. One person can't do it. I'll work as hard as I can, but I'm going to need that kind of commitment from a lot of other people and demand it and if we all give than we'll be where we want to go.
Q: Were you aware of the negotiations that went on between Bill Parcells and Robert Kraft the last two night and at what point were you first contacted?
B: The first I was aware of anything was when Bill called me this morning at about seven o'clock. We had a conversation in which he told me basically a summary of what had happened to that point and what he anticipated happening in the next couple of hours and that he would get back to me and then we subsequently had another conversation in which he told me that Robert would be calling me and he called me around ten o'clock and that's when we first talked about my coming up here today.
Q: What is your relationship with Bill now?
B: Bill and I have had a good professional relationship through my entire coaching career with him and I feel that that's still in place. We've won a lot of games together and I feel like we had a good conversation this morning, two good conversations this morning, I feel like a have a good professional relationship with Bill.
Q: Do you think he did you a favor by initiating things Tuesday night?
B: Well clearly he had a lot to do with this being worked out and I'm appreciative that it has worked out and I'm very appreciative of the Patriots for the confidence that they showed in me to make the commitment that they have for me and I want to repay that commitment.
Q: Considering the circumstances surrounding your departure from this organization a few years ago, are you amazed that you are back here, where you are?
B: Again, three years in professional football is a longtime. A lot of things happen in one year let alone three, my experience here in 1996, I would say was one of the best years and one of the most funs years that I've had in professional football. It was truly an enjoyable season other than the final game and a couple of bumps along the road, but I came here after several opportunities when I left Cleveland, I came here and had a very brief meeting with Robert in which we discussed the parameters of my coming to the Patriots for that season. After I got here the things that he told me that he would do and the commitments that he made to me he exceeded by a lot more than what we he had committed to and I felt extremely welcome. I thought that the relationship between the players, the fans and the whole organization here in New England was a very, very positive one. I went to school for awhile in New England I have a sense of the fans and the teams and the loyalty both ways in those different areas and I was caught up in that. The team had tremendous success all the way along through the season. Anything that came where I was involved with the Patriots organization, specifically Robert, but even broader than that with Andy and Jonathan and Dan, anything that I asked for was either granted or give to me or it was gone beyond that. If I asked for something that they could help me with, they not only helped but they added to it. I was tremendously impressed with the class of this organization and the way that they were genuinely committed toward winning and helping me and I saw them help other people along the way as well and that's really why I'm so excited about being back here.
Q: Being with the Jets the last few years you've had a chance to watch the Patriots, what have you seen in terms of why they aren't performing at the level it was?
B: I don't know that I'm in a position to evaluate everything that they've done the last three years all I know is that I think that this football team has a lot of resources. I think there are a lot of good players here. I think that there are a lot of players who are very committed toward winning and who really want to work hard and know how to win and I'm excited about working with them. What has gone on behind closed doors or in the practices or those kinds of things, off the field and all, I really can't evaluate I wasn't here, I don't have any idea, and I know those dynamics are important to any team. I've been on teams and I know how those things work, but what specifically happened I can't critique I have a lot of respect for people who are here who have worked here, but what happened here I don't know that I can put my finger on that. I think that somebody who was here would have a better evaluation of that than I do. What I do know is that this team has good talent and a lot of resources, a strong commitment by the ownership to win and that's what I'm here to do.
Q: You mentioned you have more meetings to set-up for management structure does that mean that the length of your authority really hasn't been set yet, are you a general manager without the title or are you not going to be the general manger?
B: Robert and I talked briefly today because that was the time frame we had. We talked about the things that needed to be done and we talked about my contract and we talked about the arrangement that we wanted to have here. There are a lot of other things we need to talk about in the organization that we haven't done. That's a high priority for us, we need to talk about those things and get them established, but at this point I'm the head football coach and I'm very happy to be it.
Q: This seems like it's the perfect opportunity for you, you went to school in New England, you coached here, what would have happened if this didn't work out would it have been probably one of the most disappointing things that ever happened to you in the NFL?
B: I couldn't put it any better than that, that's pretty good. I think this, along with the two super bowl wins this is a career highlight for me, a tremendous opportunity, I'm thrilled to be here and thrilled to be a part of the Patriots organization. I don't know if I can adequately put it in to words, but I'm very happy.
Q: How long is your contract for?
B: We have a handshake agreement on a five-year contract.
Q: With the new stadium there is going to be a lot of pressure on you to help sell luxury boxes, what would you say to the fans to convince them and the potential season ticket holders that it will be worth their investment?
B: I think that talking isn't going to do it, I think that the fans are going to judge me and judge our football team by what we do and what our performance is and that's really what we should be judged by. So, what I'm going to demand from the players and the people in the organization that are working for me that they make the commitment toward a championship caliber football team. That's what our goal is and if we get that commitment, when we get that commitment we're going to get it, when we get that commitment and we put the product on the field that the fans are excited about and support they'll back us. If we don't perform to that level, I'm sure they won't be happy about it and neither will I.
Q: How important to you is it you for a head coach to have final day on player personnel matters?
B: I think it's important for the organization for everyone to be on the same page, working in the same direction 100 percent, that is what I think is important. I don't think it's important who's right, it's important what's right and that's what concerns me is making decisions that are right for the New England Patriots not my decisions or your decisions or somebody else's decision, but the right decisions.
Q: You hold the distinction of having twice been named head coach of the New York Jets without coaching a game.
B: Hopefully my tenure here will be a little bit longer.
Q: To that degree than there will continue to be a special edge with the meetings between the Patriots and the Jets?
B: I think that the division games in the AFC East are big games no matter who the opponents are.
Q: Do you think there will be a special edge though to that matchup?
B: They are all big, I don't know which ones are bigger, but they're all big.
Q: What does it mean to you that the Patriots were willing to surrender their first round pick for you?
B: I'm very flattered that the Patriots have shown that kind of confidence in me and I want to reciprocate and I'm inspired by it. I want to work as hard as I can to live up to that commitment and confidence that they have shown in me.
Q: Did you feel that the message that you wanted to get across in New York, you got across are you comfortable with the way things ended that day at the press conference?
B: I think if I had it to do over again I might do it a little bit differently, but yes I'd probably do a couple of things a little differently.
Q: Like what?
B: Look I've really turned the page from that. What's happened has happened. There was a disagreement on the contract and I turned the page and moved on. I really prefer to focus on the future of the New England Patriots and what I can do to bolster this organization's commitment to winning.
Q: You said you expect this team to win next year, could you talk about that more specifically, win more than this year, is it getting into the playoffs, is it the AFC Championship?
B: Well my expectations are every time we walk onto the field I expect that our football team is going to win. I've never coached a team where I've walked out there feeling like we don't have a chance to win and that comes from the team being committed and being well-prepared for the situations that come up and I expect to feel that way every week this year. Now, I understand that nobody in this league wins every single game, but every time we go out there and play I'm going expect to win and I'm going to expect that our players are going to expect to win.
Q: Can you talk about what you have been doing the last three weeks and also about your state of mind especially after you got shot down the last time in court?
B: One thing I have been doing is trying to figure out how I was going to pay the legal bills. Another thing I've been doing is some projects around the house which I can see I have no future in that. Another thing I have been doing is spending more time with my family and kids and being more involved in their activities which during the course of a football season, for any coach in the National Football League gets severely cut back. I guess lately I've been doing a lot of hoping that somehow things would work out and I'm very gratified that they did. Thank you very much.