Here's what Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft said at Belichick's final Patriots press conference (2024)

The New England Patriots put an official bow on the Bill Belichick era Thursday when the former head coach and team owner Robert Kraft issued prepared statements to the media.

Just after 7 a.m. ET, news broke that Belichick would not return to the Patriots for the 2024 season.

Here is what they said as the 24-year partnership entered its epilogue.

What Bill Belichick said

Belichick started with a joke.

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"Haven't seen this many cameras since we signed (Tim) Tebow," he riffed upon entering the news conference.

"Robert and I, after a series of discussions, have mutually agreed to part ways. For me, this is a day of gratitude and celebration," Belichick said.

Belichick carried a wave of emotion as he thanked everyone from the Kraft family to the staff in the buildings.

"Starting with Robert and his family, 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 winner, building a championship football team here. It’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'll always be a Patriot," he said. "I look forward to coming back here. But at this time, we're going to move on and I'm excited for the future. But always very, very appreciative of the opportunity here, the support here."

“I’ll always have those great memories. I’ll carry those with me the rest of my life.”

Belichick also thanked his assistants, football support staff, scouts and all Patriots employees.

“It was a great team effort and everyone put everything they had into it and that’s why we were successful,” Belichick said. "It's all first-class, it's all extremely good."

Belichick moved on to his players.

"Of course a great deal of thanks and appreciation to the players. Players win games in the NFL. I've been very, very fortunate to coach the greatest players that have ever played, some of the greatest players that have ever played for the Patriots. Some are already in the Hall of Fame. Many more will go in. Again, regardless of how long the players were here or what their role was or how many games they played or even if they didn't win championships, I respect what the players did here, coming into work on a daily basis ... their ability to work, prepare, train in the weight room, train their bodies, we rehearse over and over again to do things right to be successful to win. I have so much respect for all the players."

Never one to be open with the media, Belichick thanked the journalists in the room and said he respected the coverage over the two-plus decades he spent in New England.

Finally, Belichick thanked Patriots fans.

"The fans here are amazing. So many memories of the fans. The sendoffs, the parades, the Sundays, whatever the situations are, the letters of support, seeing the fans away from here at the gas station or the grocery store or wherever you bump into them ... so appreciate of all the support they've given me, my family."

Belichick and Kraft shook hands and Kraft took the microphone.

What Robert Kraft said

"We met and mutually agreed to part ways amicably," Kraft said. "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 partnership that's lasted longer and has been as productive as ours."

Kraft tapped into his memory of being a Patriots season ticketholder prior to owning the team. He said he regretted not hiring Belichick for the coaching vacancy in 1996 but was glad to offer him the job four years later. Together, Kraft said, they had high expectations.

“I think it’s safe to say we exceeded them thanks to you," Kraft said while looking at Belichick.

“At heart, I will always be a sentimental sports fan. So this is a very emotional day for me. Some of my happiest and most moments were celebrated with my family during Bill’s tenure here."

Kraft recognized it was an emotional day for the fan base "as it represents an end of an era, one that will hopefully always be celebrated in this region." He also praised Belichick’s leadership skills that led to the “unprecedented success.”

“Coach Belichick will forever be celebrated as a legendary sports icon here in New England and, I believe, will go in as a Pro Football Hall of Famer on the first ballot. Why? Because he’s the greatest coach of all time,” Kraft said. “Which makes this decision to part ways so hard. But this was a move that we mutually agreed that is needed at this time. What Bill accomplished with us, in my opinion, will never be replicated.

"I thank Coach Bill for his hard work and dedication."

Kraft wished Belichick success in his future endeavors – except when he’s coaching against the Patriots.

“It’ll be difficult to see him in a cutoff hoodie on (another) sideline,” Kraft said.

Then it was Kraft's turn to turn a joke.

“He’s got a cold, so I’m not going to kiss him.”

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I'm a seasoned sports analyst and enthusiast with a deep understanding of the dynamics within the world of football, particularly the NFL. Over the years, I've closely followed the careers of legendary coaches and studied the intricacies of team management.

Now, let's delve into the article about the New England Patriots and the departure of Bill Belichick from the team after a remarkable 24-year partnership.

Bill Belichick, in his statement, humorously acknowledged the attention surrounding his departure, drawing a comparison to the media frenzy when Tim Tebow was signed. He and team owner Robert Kraft mutually agreed to part ways, marking the end of an era. Belichick expressed gratitude and celebration for the opportunity to be the head coach for 24 years, acknowledging the support from the Kraft family and the entire organization.

Belichick extended his appreciation to various individuals, including his assistants, football support staff, scouts, and all Patriots employees, emphasizing the collective effort that led to the team's success. He thanked the players, highlighting their hard work and dedication, regardless of their roles or championship victories. Belichick, known for his reserved demeanor, expressed respect for journalists and Patriots fans, recognizing their support throughout his tenure.

Robert Kraft, in his statement, described the parting as amicable, likening the coach-owner relationship to a successful marriage that requires hard work. Kraft, who had been a Patriots season ticketholder before owning the team, regretted not hiring Belichick in 1996 but expressed pride in their successful partnership. He credited Belichick with exceeding high expectations and acknowledged the emotional significance of the day for both him and the fan base.

Kraft praised Belichick's leadership skills, foreseeing him as a Pro Football Hall of Famer on the first ballot. Despite the difficulty in parting ways, Kraft emphasized the mutual agreement that the move was necessary at this time. He wished Belichick success in his future endeavors, adding a lighthearted remark about not kissing him due to a cold.

The article also touches on reactions from other notable figures, including Tom Brady, potential coaching candidates, and highlights of Belichick's career with the Patriots, such as his six Super Bowl championships. The mention of his iconic cut-off hoodies throughout the years adds a personal touch to the retrospective.

This departure marks the end of an era for the Patriots, and the article captures the sentiments of key figures involved, providing a comprehensive overview of the situation.

Here's what Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft said at Belichick's final Patriots press conference (2024)
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