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Bill Belichick Press Conf. Transcript - 12/12/2003

Belichick: We made one roster move today, we released Brooks Barnard and re-signed Kenny [Ken] Walter.



BB: Good morning. We made one roster move today, we released Brooks Barnard and re-signed Kenny [Ken] Walter. This doesn't have anything to do with holding or a snapper or anything else. It strictly deals with the punting situation. I think sometimes having a few days away from a situation may work to a player's advantage. We will see if that is the case. I don't know that to be the case. But we will see if that is the case here. That is the news for today.

Q: Have you ever made a move like that before?

BB: Probably somewhere along the line. I can't remember it but probably.

Q: Is Kenny's situation at all tenuous? Is this like a touch-and-go thing now?

BB: That is not the intent of it. I don't know. I am not going to commit to anything.

Q: Did Kenny go through another tryout?

BB: No. Well, we talked to him…

Q: Was he surprised?

BB: I don't know. Anything can happen.

Q: Check with him?

BB: Yes, check with Kenny. We have all seen these types of things before. Anything can happen in this league. Things can change in a hurry.

Q: You certainly aren't afraid to make roster moves. You are very aggressive in that area.

BB: Well, I think anytime you make one, you try to do what you think is best for the team. You never know for sure, but you do what you think is best. That is what we did in this case.

Q: Would you say the physical component is more important or the mental component is more important?

BB: I think they are both important. I am not sure where the line is drawn there but I think they are both important.

Q: Meaning maybe he had some time to flush out all of the bad stuff?

BB: Maybe it is a little bit of a different outlook. Sometimes when you are pressing to make a shot or hit a shot or do some skill sometimes you maybe tend to overanalyze it or think about too many things instead of just letting it flow. I don't know. Look, if I did, we would wave the magic wand and that would take care of it. Sometimes those things are good. Sometimes they are not.

Q: When a guy like Kenny is a little bit worried about his job security. Can it be beneficial to him this time around because he may feel like, 'What is the worst that can happen? They can cut me but I already got cut.' ? Like there is nothing to lose.

BB: That could be one way to look at it.

Q: Did you foresee this happening when you originally released him?

BB: Well, yeah we told him you never know. Just like last week we didn't think we would be looking for a snapper. Things change. You always have options, or try to keep them open as much as you can.

Q: Relative to Brooks, when did you realize that you needed to go in a different direction?

BB: Well, we made the decision yesterday afternoon. It didn't just come out of thin air. It is something that we have been talking about. Again, we don't have a lot of exposure with either Brooks or with Travis [Dorsch].

Q: Did the holding component have anything to with the decision at all?

BB: No, not really. I mean, there is a residual affect. I clearly understand that. Nobody understands that better than I do except for maybe Brad [Seely] and Adam [Vinatieri]. But, no that is not the reason.

Q: How much of it is the Northeast weather and having experience in the tough conditions?

BB: I don't know. I really don't know. All I am saying is when you make a decision, you try to do what you think is best for the football team moving forward. That is what I did. Do I have a crystal ball? No. It could be 80 degrees out there Sunday. I don't know.

Q: In general, team chemistry, how much do you take that into account with roster moves?

BB: Well, I think you try to do what is best for the team. When you do that, you take everything into account. But ultimately you can't satisfy every single interest group. Offensive coaches want more offensive players. Defensive coaches want more defensive players. Special teams coaches want more special teams players. Some guys like experience. At some point you have to go with young players. There are always factors. There are always different opinions coming in there. In the end, you do what you think is best for the team and all of that is weighed. You have to make a decision and that is what it is.

Q: You have a couple of new faces back in there at practice. How have Troy Brown and Larry Centers been in practice?

BB: Well Troy hasn't gone anywhere.

Q: He started practicing this week.

BB: Right. Well I still don't really know what his role is going to be. Larry, we kind of anticipated the situation when we did the settlement with him. I think he has been about where you would expect him to be. I think the injury has healed. He has been away from football for six or seven weeks, there is a timing element that needs to be re-calibrated.

Q: Did you give Travis a chance to claim the punting job first?

BB: He is on the practice squad. I would say it was an equivalent position to the other players on the practice squad. They get their opportunities to do what they can do. Sometimes practice squad players get moved up. A lot of times they don't. That is what the practice squad is for is to be able to look at players, evaluate it, consider them in your depth, and sometimes they go higher than that. Sometimes they stay where they are.

Q: Is Brad heavily involved in a decision like this?

BB: Sure.

Q: Have you talked to your team about avoiding the 'bulletin board' material for opponents? I was just wondering how you handled that.

BB: Well, first of all, my philosophy and I think the team, we all see it the same way from the coaching staff to the players on down, we have respect for every opponent and every player that is on the field. If they are out there playing, there is a reason why they are out there playing. It is because the other team thinks they are the best guy to be out there in that situation. We have respect for all of them. We have respect for the league and respect for the game. Our job is to get ready to play and go out there and put our best performance out there. It is not really to be analytical of their team, their organization, their players, their coaches or the officials or anybody else who has a job to do. All we really can control is what we do and that is where we try to put our emphasis and focus. We are not really about breaking down everybody else. We are more concerned about our performance.

Q: Can you recall a time where that has worked in your favor to rally a team?

BB: Sure. There are a lot of cases where emotionally certain things happen that get a little bit of emotion out of a group of players or a team. Sometimes it is external. Sometimes it is internal. There is no real set formula for that. That is just a way of life. There are certain things that would get under your skin more than other things would. If somebody was trying to do that, and it bothered you, then you might have a response that might be a little bit more aggressive to it. I think that definitely exist.

Q: You mentioned respect for the game, would you consider yourself a traditionalist?

BB: What is a traditionalist?

Q: Someone who doesn't embrace sweeping changes. Do you try to keep to the attitude, 'Nobody is above the game?'

BB: Well, I think before you add a player onto your team however you add him, you want to take into consideration what his attitude is towards you and the team and the organization is that he is coming onto. Then try to, not control it because that is definitely not the right word, but to try to have some idea of how the interactions might play. Maybe not specifically but just in general terms, is he good for our team or is he not good for our team.

Q: [On example of a comparison of Deion Sanders and Carlton Fisk]

BB: Closer to Fisk or Sanders? [Laughter]. I guess I would answer the question this way – I have a respect for the game. The game has changed a lot over the last lets say 100 years.

Q: [Laughter] Like leather helmets?

BB: So, what is acceptable in 1920 and what is acceptable in 1980 and what is acceptable in 2000 and what is acceptable in 1960…there were a lot of things in 1960 that were acceptable that probably wouldn't have been acceptable in 1940 if you go back and look at the game. I don't think it is for me to judge that. I will abide by the rules. I will play by them and I will accept them. That is what the game is.

Q: Do you have a longer leash than your father would have?

BB: I think when you coach at a military school, you coach a different type of player and a different type of person and people in the military are, my experience has been, that they are brought up to accept orders and obey orders. Not why, just do it. That is part of being in the military. When you sign up to be in the military there is a chain of command and you answer to the command that is higher than you are. Outside of the military, that it is not always quite the way it works in society, people question the things that the President does all the way on down. Other than the military, there is more of a chain of command. So I think it is a little bit of a different…military, discipline and other society sets of rules or discipline of order or whatever it is, to me it is different. I didn't really understand that as a kid. But I think growing up and looking back on it and seeing it, I can see there is a difference now. Military is not like normal society. It is just different and it is voluntary. At school like that, you don't have to be there if you don't want to. I understand being drafted but that is a little bit different.

Q: With Ken, what kind of salary cap ramifications will this have?

BB: Well, I don't really want to get into any specific commentary on Ken. Let's just put it this way – you know as well as I do that if you release a player after June 1st, that the acceleration then is in the following year. Whether that be on June 2nd, July 1st or December 5th. Whatever the acceleration is on any contract on a player that is released after June 1st, that acceleration carries into the next year. Now, if you trade a player or if a player is waived and claimed, then if there is any money trailing from a signing bonus, then that money accelerates into the current year. As an example, and I am not saying this would or wouldn't happen, but just as an example with Keyshawn Johnson and Tampa. The ramifications of let's just say waiving him and him being claimed by another team and the acceleration into the current year, if that were to happen, I am not saying it would, but if it would, it would have a different salary cap implication than if a player was released, cleared waivers and then either did or didn't sign with another team. It really wouldn't make any difference. Once a players contract is terminated then that player is truly a free agent. So whatever the next contract is, it is then negotiable between the player and the club whether it is something that was close to what was previously existing or whether it was something new that is a negotiation just like any other contract would be.

Q: This is a stupid question.

BB: It is not.

Q: Are you saying that you weren't able to find anyone out there, there is nothing out there, that can do a better job than Ken Walter did?

BB: Well, I am making a decision based on where we are right now and we are playing the Jacksonville game. This is Friday. The game is Sunday. I am not even going to sit here and say with a guarantee that this is the way it will be on Sunday. Maybe, but I am not going to make that decision until Sunday.

Q: Is it safe to say that no one has out performed Kenny Walter?

BB: That is not what I am saying. I mean really, I am not trying to muddy the water. That is not what I am saying. This is the decision that we made. What the decision will be next week? I don't know. We will make that decision next week.

Q: What kind of job has Dante Scarnecchia done with the offensive line?

BB: Dante is one of the best coaches I have ever worked with and I feel like I have worked with a lot of good ones. He is outstanding. As usual, I think he has done an outstanding job with that group. He is a great teacher. He is a good tactician. He makes good game adjustments. He is a good motivator. He does an outstanding job with the young players and with the veterans whether it is the Mike Compton's or the Bruce Armstrong's or some of the other players that we have had around here that have been very veteran players to the [Dan] Koppen's to the [Matt] Light's and the [Tom] Ashworth's and the guys like that who have had virtually no NFL experience until he got them and all of them in between. I think he does a great job and I think he has done a good job with the group this year. There is certainly a level of consistency in their play that, not that it couldn't improve, I am not saying that, but it has improved through the year.

Q: Is it that really unusual to last through that many different regimes?

BB: It is probably a little bit, yes. There are some other coaches that have been in one place for a while through probably multiple head coaches. But yes I would say it is probably more less common than common.

Q: Losing coaches, I know that you have a game plan for your players. Do you have a game plan for your coaching staff?

BB: Let me answer it this way, two things. First of all, I have been in that situation. I have been an assistant coach when my name has been brought up here, there and somewhere else. The fact of the matter is at this point there is no contact. It is strictly, with all due respect, people like yourself putting names out there like that but the teams haven't contacted the coaches. There is a set of rules in place to deal with that. So that is what it is. You can put anybody's name out there that you want. But there is no formal process that has begun. At some point there will be with whoever it ends up being with. My feeling with the coaches is, they have done a good job for me. I support them. I support their careers and if there is an opportunity that is better than the one that I can provide whether it was Nick Saban going to Michigan State or whether it was Romeo [Crennel] interviewing with San Francisco or whoever it is, I would do all I could to help the person if he thought that opportunity was better for him professionally and personally. But we are certainly not at that point now and aren't going to be for a while so I am not really too worried about it. If and when it happens, then we will deal with it then

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