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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft wants Bill Belichick coaching into his 80s

Matt Johnson
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft raised eyebrows with recent comments at the NFL annual meetings about how the team’s recent lack of playoff success bothered him. While another disappointing finish could lead to changes, head coach Bill Belichick seems to be very safe.

Belichick, age 70, has become one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports. Hired by New England in 2000, he’s overseen nine Super Bowl appearances and hoised the Lombardi Trophy six times. Following a down year in 2020 – New England’s first season with a sub-.500 record under Belichick – the Patriots rebounded with a 10-7 record and a playoff appearance last fall.

  • Bill Belichick career record: 290-143 in regular season, 31-13 playoff record

New England is now led by quarterback Mac Jones with high expectations set for the young quarterback entering his second season. Belichick is sticking around for the 2022 season and even after expressing frustration over the team’s recent woes, Kraft reportedly does want his coach around for another decade.

“Robert Kraft told me that he wants to see Bill Belichick coach into his 80s. He wants to see him perform at a high level like a Warren Buffett or a Rupert Murdoch well past his 80th birthday — he believes he can.”

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio on 93.7 The Fan (H/T CBS Sports)

The insight into Kraft’s perspective on Belichick is interesting for two reasons. First, it seems evident that he is still happy with Belichick’s overall performance and doesn’t want to risk a change that could set the franchise back for years. Second, it shows why Josh McDaniels likely left for the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason.

If the Patriots are going to allow Belichick to walk away on his terms, a right he earned, there was no future for McDaniels with the organization. He needed to find the right opportunity and once it became available, with succeeding Belichick years away, he took it.

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NCAA Football: Georgia Pro Day
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Considering Belichick drafted a young quarterback and seems to be constructing a team that offers long-term financial flexibility, retirement doesn’t appear to be in the near future. It’s also likely his competitive drive is even stronger after watching Tom Brady win a Super Bowl than attempt to tamper his way to the Miami Dolphins to face the Patriots twice per season.

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Belichick’s recent birthday did remind NFL fans of comments he made in 2009. As part of a documentary, Belichick said on video he wouldn’t coach into his 70s. He admitted in 2019 that he felt differently and felt better than he expected.

“I won’t be like Marv Levy and coaching in my 70s, I know that.”

New England Patriots HC Bill Belichick on his coaching future in 2009, via Albert Breer

Given the 70-year-old coach and executive is out scouting prospects during Pro Days and spending just as much time in the film room, it’s clear his passion for football is still there.

For now, Belichick is focused on the 2022 NFL season and competing for a playoff spot to snap the streak of losses. He’ll be more involved with the offense this fall, making things even more interesting.