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Transcript: Bill Belichick Conference Call 10/8

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Thursday, October 8, 2020.

BB: We made the decision to close the facility for the health and safety of our team. That's always priority No. 1. We have continued our preparations for Denver with virtual calls and we'll just kind of take the situation day by day. When we feel that it's safe for everyone to come back, then we will do that. Obviously, I'm sure you have a lot of questions, I have a lot of questions, we all have questions and this is really more of a medical situation than a football situation, so we will work through the decisions and input from the people in the medical field – a combination of Patriots and league, and people that know the situation, know the virus and the specific circumstances that are involved here, both in the past and going forward. So, it's not really something I'm going to be able to give much insight on. Again, we have a lot of questions on our end, but for right now, yesterday and today, we are closed and we are going to work virtually to prepare for Denver and just take it day by day. That's really about the best I can give you – about really all there is, to tell you the truth.

Q: Was there any consideration to leaving players like Stephon Gilmore or anyone else who had close contact to Cam Newton home from the trip to Kansas City?

BB: We followed all the NFL protocols.

Q: There was a report that Stephon had had dinner with Cam Newton on Friday night. Was the team aware of that before the trip to Kansas City?

BB: Yeah, again, all the information and everything involving testing and contact and everything else, all the information that we had we processed through medical people on our end, medical people in the league and followed the protocols. I feel like we did everything that we could control. I think we did everything properly with the extra plane, the extra busses, the same day travel, etcetera, etcetera. There's multiple things we could list there. In terms of a lot of individual specific questions, I'd say all those get thrown into the general medical field.

Q: How are you feeling, personally, health wise?

BB: Great.

Q: Understanding there's a lot of unknowns here, what is you general level of concern with the team's continued good health?

BB: What's my level of concern with it?

Q: Yes.

BB: What does that mean?

Q: How concerned are you that the players and the coaches will remain healthy and continue to turn back the test results that you want?

BB: Well, there's nothing more important than the health of the team. I mean, without a healthy team, you don't have a team. So, that priority No. 1, I would say not only for our team, but also for their families and people that are close to them. So, that's always our No. 1 concern and we'll try to do everything we can to make that the best that we can make it. That's the way it's always been and that's not going to change. So, whatever we have to do to do that, than that'll be what we do. We've always approached it that way. This is different, but it's really based on the same criteria.

Q: You guys did receive some good news this morning that all tests came back negative, but just given what we know about the timeframe of COVID-19 and how it could take a little while for people to test positive, what is your level of concern with potentially regrouping for practice tomorrow and then playing a game Sunday against Denver?

BB: Yeah, well, Ben [Volin] that's a great question. Those are all the questions that we are asking, and again, we are relying on doctors and the people in that field to take everything under advisement. I'd say that they have a big role in making those decisions. Really, these aren't football decisions. These are medical decisions. So, in terms of medical decisions, those fall to medical people. Football decisions fall to football people. And so we will see how it goes. Where we are today, I don't think we can really plan too far ahead to start talking about Saturday, Sunday, a bunch of others days. There's a lot that can or can't happen in the meantime, and as things change and if there are positive or potentially negative developments, then we will look at those. I'd say the medical department has kept me abreast of everything, and I've certainly learned a lot and tried to understand how this fits into what we are trying to do as a football team and what the medical needs and concerns are. Just trying to balance all that out, but I mean, it's really not balanced – it's the health and safe of the team first and then its football second. So, for yesterday and today, we are not in the building and we'll take it day by day.

Q: Knowing that Stephon Gilmore ended up testing positive after the game, do you wish in hindsight that the NFL didn't go through with the game Monday night?

BB: Yeah, there's a lot of decisions and things out of our control. What I'm trying to do is to focus on the things that we have control over and do the best job and make the best decisions we can in those situations.

Q: What's your input to the league in terms of how much time you need to adequately prepare football wise to play a game?

BB: Yeah, we've been in communication with the league, and again, that's a fluid situation, so we'll just take it day by day.

Q: What input do you give them specifically? What have you told them?

BB: Yeah, again, I'll keep the conversations between myself and our team and our players and the league between us.

Q: Even in a situation like this? What do you as a football coach say to the league as to 'the New England Patriots need this?'

BB: Yeah, I'll let the league speak on that so that way it doesn't get taken out of context.

Q: This has now been two weeks in a row that your game preparation has been disrupted because of positive tests. From a competitive stand point, how much of a disadvantage does that put you at relative to the Chiefs last week and the Broncos this week? Do you think it makes sense to delay the game by more than a week because of that?

BB: Yeah, again, there are a lot of factors and things are changing very quickly, or could change very quickly – sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I think we knew at the beginning of the season that there were going to be challenges and there have been and we're committed to working through them and that's what we're doing.

Q: You said that you made the decision to close the facility today. I know you weren't in yesterday. It sounded like, according to Dr. Allen Sills, that the league basically shut down the facility yesterday. Would the league have allowed the team to gather today at the facility had you not made that decision to close it today?

BB: Yeah, I don't know. You'd have to ask them.

Q: Are you hopeful you'll be able to play on Sunday?

BB: We're preparing. We are preparing today like a normal Thursday. We'll see what the schedule is or isn't, but at this point we are preparing for a normal Thursday – I mean, normal in terms of meetings, not normal in terms of practice. We can't do anything from a practice standpoint other than watch film and talk through assignments and things like that like we did earlier this year when we were in virtual meetings.

Q: You and the staff do have some experience with this virtual coaching from the offseason, but missing two days of practice, particularly Wednesday and Thursday, two vital days in terms of preparation, what is your focus in terms of virtual coaching been yesterday and today in preparation for that guys coming back tomorrow?

BB: Yeah, well, we'll just do the best we can with the opportunities that we have. So, that's some teaching off of diagrams and things like that, there's looking at our opponents and then there's simulation, if you will, of how plays would be run, assignments and so forth and doing it in the format that we have available to us. So, it's not ideal. I mean, this isn't what we would normally do, but there is an opportunity to cover things and get things taught and explain them and have players ask questions and have coaches get together and put together game plans based on the same format that we are using. Again, it's not what we would choose to do because we have that option and we don't do it this way, but this is what we can do, so we'll do the best we can with it.

Q: Stephon Gilmore announced he was asymptomatic. I'm just wondering if you have an update on Cam Newton on how he's feeling?

BB: Yeah, I mean, I haven't talked to him in a day, so not sure. I don't have anything current for you.

Q: Do you anticipate he will be able to take part in meetings?

BB: In virtual meetings?

Q: Yes.

BB: Yeah, sure. Why not? Anybody that's tested positive wouldn't be allowed to be in any in-person meetings until they are cleared medically. So, that's that. But, in terms of virtual meetings, yeah, absolutely.

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