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Transcript: Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick Press Conference 1/11

Read the full transcript of Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick's press conference with the media on Wednesday, January 11, 2024.

ROBERT KRAFT AND BILL BELICHICK

PRESS CONFERENCE

January 11, 2024

BB: Robert [Kraft] and I, after a series of discussions, have mutually agreed to part ways. For me, this is a day of gratitude and celebration. I'll start with Robert and his family. Great. So much thanks for the opportunity to be the head coach here for 24 years. It's an amazing opportunity, received tremendous support. We had a vision of building a championship football team here. That's exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations, the amount of success that we were able to achieve together through a lot of hard work and the contributions of so many people. I'm very proud of that, and I'll always have those great memories.  I'll carry those with me for the rest of my life. And of course, after Robert, thanks to the assistant coaches. I've had so many great coaches here. They've made my job so much easier. It's a long list, but the amount of work, preparation and diligence that they do, every one of them – I say this about the players, and the coaches, regardless of how long they were here, how many years they were here, how many years they coached, what their position was – it was a great team effort and everybody put everything they had into it. That's why we were successful. The coaches, the support staff, it's an amazing staff here that's supported me in every way. All the scouting and all of the football support people – from equipment and training, security, video, operations and so forth, right down the line, dining room – it's all first class. It's all extremely good. Special thanks to Berj [Najarian] and Nancy [Meier]. They've been here since day one and made my life a lot easier. Or, I've made theirs a lot harder, however you look at it. But, big shoutout to them. Of course, a great deal of thanks and appreciation to the players. Players win games in the NFL, and I've been very, very fortunate to coach some of the greatest players that have ever played. Some of the greatest players that have ever played for the Patriots, some of them are in the Hall of Fame, and many more are going. Again, regardless of how long the players were or weren't here, what their role was, or how many games they played, or even if they didn't win championships, I respect the way the players come to work here on a daily basis. All of them, and I have coached well over 1,000. Their ability to work, prepare, train in the weight room, train their bodies, rehearse over and over again, and do things right to be successful to win. I have so much respect for all the players, and certainly we've had many that have been here for a long time and had great contributions. Too many to name at this time, but a great thanks to the players. To the media, I don't know that anybody's gotten more coverage than I have, or we have, over the past 24 years. I give you guys a lot of respect for what you do. You're our voice to the fans. Even though we don't always see eye-to-eye all of the time – most of the time, but not all of the time – I do respect what you do. And finally, to the fans. The fans here are amazing. I have so many memories of the fans – the send-offs, the parades, the Sundays, whatever the situations are. The letters of support, seeing the fans away from here, at a gas station, at a grocery store, or wherever you bump into them – our Patriot fans here, not just in New England, but they extend nationally and even internationally as I've traveled. It's amazing how far the arm reaches. We saw that this year in Germany. So appreciative of the fans for all the support they've given me, my family and this football team. It's with so many fond memories and thoughts that I think about the Patriots. I will always be a Patriot. I look forward to coming back here. But, at this time, we're going to move on. I look forward, am excited for the future. But, I am always very appreciative of the opportunity here, the support here, and Robert, what you've done for me.

RKK: Thank you, Bill. Good afternoon everyone, and as Bill mentioned, yesterday, we met and mutually agreed to part ways amicably.  Like a good marriage, a successful head coach/owner relationship requires a lot of hard work. and I'm very proud that our partnership lasted for 24 years. I don't think in the NFL, there's been any other partnership that lasted longer and has been as productive as ours. I trusted my instincts to bring Bill back to New England in 2000 after immediately regretting not hiring him after working with him together in 1996. When I did hire him, I was still making the transition from the fan who bought season tickets in 71', sitting on the metal benches in the old Foxboro Stadium with my boys, to try to become an experienced owner. Bill has taught me a lot over those years, and we had high expectations for what we could achieve together. I think we were the only ones who had those expectations, and I think it's safe to say we exceeded them – thanks to you [Bill Belichick]. It's hard to put into words, really, when I think back to sitting on those metal benches, that we would have an opportunity to go to 10 Super Bowls together and bring six Lombardi trophies home to Massachusetts.  

At heart, I will always be a sentimental sports fan. So, this is an emotional day for me. Some of my happiest and most memorable moments were celebrated with my family during Bill's tenure here. I recognize that it also is a very emotional day for many of our fans, as it represents the end of an era, one that hopefully will always be celebrated in this region. The man standing to my left brought the leadership and coaching skills that were needed to make the type of unprecedented success that we have had possible. Coach Belichick will forever be celebrated as a legendary sports icon here in New England and I believe go in as a Pro Football Hall of Famer on the first ballot.  Why? Because he is the greatest coach of all time, which makes this decision to part ways so hard. But, this is a move that we mutually agreed that is needed at this time. What Bill Belichick accomplished with us, in my opinion, will never be replicated. The fact that it was done in the salary cap and free agency era makes it even more extraordinary. I thank Coach Bill for his hard work and dedication. It will be difficult to see him in a cutoff hoodie on the sideline, but I will always wish him continued success, except when he's playing our beloved Patriots. Thank you all for coming here today and being a part of this celebration.

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