Falcons owner Arthur Blank denies Bill Belichick requested de facto general manager powers

An entire NFL head coaching cycle, most notably the Atlanta Falcons, passed over six-time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick. It was natural people, including Tom Brady, would want to know why.

The widely speculated, and reported, explanation for Belichick’s continued free agency is that the coach wanted the same power structure he had with the New England Patriots, where he was effectively the team’s general manager in addition to the head coach. A 71-year-old candidate with those conditions might make teams uncomfortable given his age and the radical changes required.

The Falcons were the only team to interview Belichick for the job previously held by Arthur Smith. They ended up hiring Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, who previously served as their interim coach.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank denied the speculation and reporting around Belichick’s candidacy on Friday, via Fox 5 Atlanta’s Justin Felder, saying Belichick never demanded control over the Falcons’ personnel decisions and would have been happy working with current general manager Terry Fontenot.

Blank’s full recollection:

“I do want to make it 1,000 percent clear — I want to go to 2,000 percent or 100,000, whatever percent you want to use — Bill Belichick never asked for, in our discussions, full control over personnel or the building or anything of that nature. He was very inclusive, very collaborative, he met Terry Fontenot, he checked out our people using his own references. He sent me a private text, which I eventually shared with Terry, that he’d be happy working with him. All these things that were being produced by the media were totally not true. I say it not to patronize Bill, but to be fair to him. He never had that as a requirement.

“He’s got his history, he has a way of doing things, etc., which were very, very successful. You can debate if that’s true the last four years or so, might be a different picture, but there’s a lot of stories, learned a lot of things. I think it was a very good series of interviews with him. Our folks were impressed with him. I was impressed with him, as well as a number of candidates. And we just felt — all things considered, for a variety of reasons — that Raheem Morris was clearly the best choice for us.”

Foxborough, MA - January 11: New England Patriots former head coach Bill Belichick addressed the media at Gillette Stadium about his departure. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Bill Belichick’s NFL coaching future is unclear after missing out on the Falcons job.. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

As Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson laid out last month, it was hard to imagine most teams being interested in Belichick as both a head coach and general manager, unless both positions were vacant and the team was comfortable going all-in on a septuagenerian to replicate the success that eluded him for his last four years in New England.

Blank indicates that wasn’t the case, but we won’t really get confirmation until Belichick finds his next job.

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