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Robert Kraft: Removing personnel power from Bill Belichick would have created "confusion"

On Monday, now-former Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the possibility of relinquishing personnel control moving forward. If it was a message to owner Robert Kraft, it didn't prevent the decision to move on.

"We thought about [adjusting Belichick's role]," Kraft told reporters on Thursday, "but I've had experience running different businesses and trying to develop a team. Think about it, when you have someone like Bill, who's had control over every decision, every coach we hire, the organization reports to him on the draft, and how much money we spend. Every decision has been his, and we've always supported him. To then take some of that power away and give it to someone else — accountability is important to me in every one of our companies, and where he had the responsibility and then someone else takes it, it's going to set up confusion. And, ‘It was his pick and that was a bad pick’, or ‘He didn't play them right’. It just wouldn't work, in my opinion."

Kraft makes a very good point. After Belichick spent so long in charge of everything, it would have been awkward (to say the least) for someone else to assume some of his duties while he remained employed as the head coach.

Kraft also explained that Belichick's power grew over time. And Kraft possibly regrets not ensuring there was someone who could properly counter Belichick's power, which eventually became absolute.

"Just to be clear, he didn't have all that power and rights [when he arrived]," Kraft said. "I don't think it happened until after the third Super Bowl, but it slowly happened, and in my opinion he earned it. And it worked pretty well for most of the time. But all of us need checks and balances in our life. We need what I say — I call it, we need 'Dr. No's' around us, people to protect us from ourselves. And as things evolve and you get more power, sometimes people are afraid to speak up. I'm speaking about all companies. I think it's good to have checks and balances, but once you have [the power], it's kind of hard to pull it away and expect to have the accountability you want."

Again, as long as it delivered championship-caliber teams, it was fine. After Belichick slipped on the personnel side (and slip he did, over a period of years), Belichick the coach could no longer make up for those failings. And, as Kraft sees it, it would have been too hard to reset the clock to the time before Belichick ran everything.

It will be interesting to see how much power over the roster Belichick wants in his next coaching job. Maybe his comments from Monday weren't a message to Kraft as much as they were a message to the owners who will now consider hiring Belichick.