Jan 20, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with coach Bill Belichick after the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Chiefs 37-31 in overtime to advance to fifth Super Bowl in eight seasons. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick praises Tom Brady, denies refusing to meet QB

Bill Belichick was quick to toss verbal bouquets toward Tom Brady during his press conference on Wednesday morning, four days ahead of the New England Patriots’ home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Patriots coach spoke glowingly of the 44-year-old Brady, who spent his first 20 NFL seasons with New England before heading to Tampa Bay to win his seventh Super Bowl title in February.

“Nothing Tom does surprises me,” Belichick said of the 14-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time NFL MVP. “Tom does all things well … plays hard, takes care of himself. He’s talked about playing until 50. … If there is anyone that can do it, it’s probably him.”

Belichick, however, wasn’t in the mood to address recently released excerpts of an upcoming book — “It’s Better to be Feared” — on the Patriots’ dynasty.

Well, save for one comment.

Belichick denied one allegation that he declined to meet Brady in person when the quarterback desired to speak with him about leaving the team in March 2020. Instead, according to the book, Belichick said he wasn’t available and insisted to speak to Brady on the phone.

“No, that’s not true,” Belichick said. “And I’ve heard a few things about this book, and it sounds like it’s a lot of second-, third- and fourth-hand comments. But I’m not going to get into that. I’m going to focus on this game, and try to prepare for this game.”

The book will be published on Oct. 12.

The game between the Buccaneers (2-1) and Patriots (1-2) will be played on Sunday night in Foxborough, Mass.

The prime time contest also will feature the return of Rob Gronkowski. The five-time Pro Bowl tight end played a large role in helping the Patriots win four Super Bowl titles during his nine seasons with the club.

“I appreciate everything they’ve done and I have a ton of respect for them,” Belichick said. “But this Sunday we’re on opposite sides of the field and we’re going to do what we can to not make them enjoy the night.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks up during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick doubles down on vax opinion

Saying he wanted to clarify a comment about vaccinations he made last week, New England head coach Bill Belichick on Monday doubled down on his opinion that COVID-19 vaccinations don’t “solve all our problems.”

Belichick reiterated that “no player has been released or kept because of their vaccination status,” a reference to the release of quarterback Cam Newton last week.

But he didn’t back off his opinion about vaccinations in general, despite pushback from the NFL late last week.

“My comment relative to the vaccinations, really the way I feel is, that’s an individual decision for each person to make,” Belichick said Monday. “As a team, we’re better off if everyone is vaccinated and that being said, even if everyone is vaccinated, that doesn’t solve all our problems as we’ve seen, multiple players, head coaches, assistant coaches throughout the league have tested positive for COVID even after they have been vaccinated.”

His comments echo the statement he made last week after Newton was released.

“There’ve been a number of, quite a high number I would say, of players who have had the virus who have been vaccinated, so your implication that vaccination solves every problem, I would say that has not been substantiated based on what’s happened in training camp (throughout the NFL) this year.”

NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills pushed back on that notion last Friday.

“We released our data … from the first three weeks of August, and that data has consistently shown higher rates of infection in unvaccinated players than in vaccinated players,” Sills said.

“We know that vaccines are working,” Sills said. “What we are seeing are some vaccinated people who test positive. But their illness tends to be very short and very mild, and that’s exactly what the vaccines were designed to do.”

–Field Level Media

Published Caption:  Patriots receiver N'Keal Harry fends off Dolphins defender Jerome Baker after a third-quarter reception in Week 1. [The Providence Journal / Kris Craig] Original Caption:  Patriots receiver N'Keal Harry fends off Dolphins defender Jerome Baker after a third-quarter reception in Week 1.

Patriots Expecting More From N Keal Harry

Bill Belichick talked with WR N’Keal Harry on trade request

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday he has spoken with N’Keal Harry on the heels of the wide receiver’s agent making a very public trade request on his behalf.

“N’Keal and I have talked about it. I think we had a good conversation,” Belichick said. “We have a good relationship, so not going to get into all that.”

Harry, 23, acknowledged last week that he has considered remaining in New England.

“I’m a Patriot right now. I’m very okay with being a Patriot,” Harry said on Friday. “Right now I’m at a New England Patriots training camp and I’m just trying to make sure I can do everything I can to fit in with this team, and do anything I can to help this team get wins.”

Harry’s agent, Jamal Tooson, wrote over social media on July 6 that the former first-round pick was in need of a change of scenery.

“For the past several months, I have been working in cooperation with the Patriots behind the scenes to put a plan in place to allow N’Keal to thrive in New England,” Tooson wrote at the time. “Through two seasons, he has 86 targets, which obviously hasn’t met the expectations the Patriots and N’Keal had when they drafted a dominant downfield threat who was virtually unstoppable at the point of attack in college.

“Following numerous conversations with the Patriots, I believe it’s time for a fresh start and best for both parties if N’Keal moves on before the start of training camp. That’s why I have informed the Patriots today I am formally requesting a trade on behalf of my client.”

Harry recorded 33 receptions for 309 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games last season. The 6-foot-4 wideout has 45 catches for 414 yards and four scores in 21 career games since being selected by the Patriots with the 32nd overall pick out of Arizona State in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2021; Foxborough, MA, United States; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (50) watches New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick: Cam Newton is Patriots QB … for now

Veteran Cam Newton is the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots. At least for now.

That’s what coach Bill Belichick told reporters Saturday, reiterating the comments he made after the Patriots selected Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in April.

Still, Belichick acknowledged he could change his viewpoint as training camp progresses in Foxborough, Mass.

“We’ll take a look at the whole situation,” Belichick said. “I don’t think you want to evaluate players at any position off one or two plays, or maybe a day. So from a consistency standpoint, that’s always important. And obviously production. So hopefully those things will be good, and I’m sure it will be a hard decision.”

Since training camp opened this week, Newton has taken the majority of the snaps, followed by Jones.

Newton, a former No. 1 overall draft pick and the 2015 NFL MVP with the Carolina Panthers, is in his second season with the Patriots. Brought in to fill the very big shoes of Tom Brady, Newton was 7-8 as a starter as the Patriots missed the playoffs for only the third time in 20 seasons. He completed 65.8 percent of his pass attempts for 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He added 12 touchdowns on 592 rushing yards.

Newton, 32, told reporters Friday that he knows his grip on the position isn’t secure.

“Ever since I’ve been here, there’s been a quarterback competition,” he said. “I think, in essence, that’s the underlying Patriot Way. Every position has a competition there, and quarterback is no different.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton’s hand ‘getting better,’ says Bill Belichick

Cam Newton will miss Thursday’s organized team activity, but coach Bill Belichick said the New England Patriots quarterback’s hand injury is healing.

“He’s doing all right,” Belichick told reporters Thursday morning. “He won’t participate today, but … he’s getting better. I think he’ll be all right.”

Newton, 32, sustained a bone bruise in his right hand during a June 4 practice session.

Recent reports suggested the former NFL MVP could miss the remainder of OTAs and the June 15-17 minicamp before returning to action at training camp in late July.

First-round draft pick Mac Jones, third-year player Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer are getting the reps in Newton’s absence.

Newton re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal in March after going 7-8 and passing for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first season with New England in 2020.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2011, Newton has passed for 31,698 yards and 190 TDs and rushed for 5,398 yards and 70 scores in 140 games (139 starts) with the Carolina Panthers (2011-19) and Patriots. The 2015 MVP is a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) and quarterback Jarrett Stidham (4) celebrate after a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots’ Bill Belichick: Cam Newton ‘still our quarterback’

There is no quarterback controversy in New England. At least not yet.

Bill Belichick said Friday that veteran Cam Newton remains his starter — despite the Patriots drafting Alabama’s Mac Jones in the first round on Thursday night and the continued presence of former Tom Brady heir apparent Jarrett Stidham on the depth chart.

“Cam’s our quarterback,” the head coach told reporters. “Whatever time Jarrett or Mac are ready to challenge him and compete, we’ll see how that goes. Right now, for Mac, he’s got a lot of learning in front of him, and I know he’s very anxious to get going with it and getting started.”

Newton, who turns 32 on May 11, re-signed with the club on a one-year deal in March after going 7-8 and passing for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first season with New England in 2020.

Belichick was asked how long Newton would remain the starter.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Somebody will have to play better than he does.”

Jones, 22, had been projected to go as high as No. 3 in the draft after passing for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions while leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship last season. The Patriots landed him with the 15th pick.

Stidham, 24, was drafted in the fourth round out of Auburn in 2019. He has completed 24 of 48 passes for 270 yards with two touchdowns and four picks in eight games (zero starts) over the past two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks at different plays during the first half against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick declines Presidential Medal of Freedom

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick announced Monday night that he will turn down an invitation to the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Belichick explained his decision in a statement that did not mention President Donald Trump by name but alluded to the events of the past week, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Five people, including a police officer, died.

“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,” Belichick said. “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.

“I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”

Trump has drawn support from Belichick, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and ex-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in previous years. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump boasted about a receiving a letter of support from Belichick.

Belichick said Trump ran a “tremendous campaign” and called the media “negative” and “slanted,” Trump said at the time.

According to Trump, Belichick wrote, “Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again.”

The support was in line with the Patriots’ owner, whose Kraft Group reportedly donated $1 million to the Trump inaugural committee.

Trump recently reappointed Belichick to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition. The Patriots coach first was appointed in 2018.

Belichick holds NFL records among head coaches for most Super Bowl victories (six) and most Super Bowl appearances (nine).

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (middle) looks on from the sidelines with head coach Bill Belichick (right) after being replaced in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Belichick done talking about status of QB Newton

One day after benching quarterback Cam Newton in the fourth quarter and then saying the veteran still is his signal caller moving forward, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick refused to address the topic Friday.

“I’ve answered that for the last time,” Belichick said Friday after going over the game film of New England’s 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Newton completed just 9 of 16 passes for 119 yards on Thursday night against one of the top defenses in the NFL. He threw one interception, which was returned 79 yards for a touchdown by the Rams’ Kenny Young.

“We knew exactly what they were going to do,” Newton said after the game. “We just have to be better and it starts with me personally. (I) just have to make more plays and that’s what it comes down too.”

The Patriots are just 6-7 on the season and are on the brink of being eliminated from playoff consideration. They visit the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 20.

An early 10-0 lead by the Rams forced the Patriots into a pass-heavy attack and it went nowhere, which is not a huge surprise. The Patriots average 185.4 yards passing per game in their first season since 2000 without Tom Brady as the starter, and the total is third from the bottom in the NFL.

Known as a dual threat for his passing and running abilities, Newton added just 16 yards rushing Thursday, tied for his second lowest total of the season. On a key fourth-and-goal situation near the Rams’ goal line in the second quarter, Newton tried to run but was stopped for a 2-yard loss.

In the fourth quarter, Belichick replaced Newton with Jarrett Stidham for the final three drives. The Patriots didn’t score on any of them. Afterward, Belichick was asked if the quarterback change was permanent.

“Yeah, great question, really glad you asked that,” Belichick said. “Cam’s our quarterback.”

Newton, 31, also was asked about a potential benching over the final three games.

“That’s not my call,” the 10-year player said. “I’m just doing what I’m asked. I still go into each and every week with the mentality to keep getting better and that’s what I plan on doing.”

Newton, who has been named to the Pro Bowl three times, has 2,172 yards passing this season with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In his previous nine seasons, all with the Carolina Panthers, he had 29,041 yards passing with 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions.

Newton accumulated 58 rushing touchdowns for Carolina and has ran for 11 this season with New England.

-Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks with quarterback Cam Newton (1) before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Belichick: Salary cap issues contributing to Patriots’ woes

Bill Belichick said his New England Patriots lack their customary depth and veteran experience, in part because of salary cap restrictions.

The Patriots are off to an uncharacteristic 2-4 start and face the Buffalo Bills (5-2) on Sunday. The Bills lead the AFC East, which the Patriots have won 17 times since Belichick took over the team in 2000.

“We’re playing more young players than we’ve played in the past (for a) combination of reasons,” Belichick told Sirius XM NFL Radio.

“We were pretty heavily invested in our team in the past few years. From a salary-cap standpoint, we didn’t have much flexibility at all.”

After Tom Brady’s departure in the offseason, the Patriots signed quarterback Cam Newton to a bargain-basement contract — one year, $1.05 million with just $550,000 guaranteed — but the former league MVP hasn’t produced a winning record.

The Patriots also had eight players opt out of the 2020 season amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, including linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung and running back Brandon Bolden. Their opt outs have left the Patriots with more than $20 million available cap space this season, but that will shrink when they come back on the books for 2021.

“This is kind of the year that we’ve taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years. We just haven’t been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we’ve had in some other years. That’s provided more opportunity for younger players. So it’s a combination of all the reasons,” Belichick said.

The Patriots started 2-1 but have lost three straight since Newton tested positive for COVID-19, scoring a combined 28 points.

“We had a good training camp,” Belichick told Sirius XM. “We played pretty well the first three weeks of the season. And then I’d say we regressed over the next two and a half weeks for a combination of reasons. We’re trying to make that ground back up and more. We need to keep going forward. So that’s what we’re doing.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA;  New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll greet after the game at Gillette Stadium.  The Seattle Seahawks won 31-24.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Belichick, Carroll to set record on Sunday

Sunday night’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will set a record for having the two head coaches with the highest combined age ever in an NFL game.

Pete Carroll, 69, and Bill Belichick, 68, and will be a combined 137 years and 162 days old when their teams take the field in Seattle, according to NFL Research.

The previous record was set on Dec. 30, 1995, when 70-year-old Marv Levy and 65-year-old Don Shula coached against each other for the last time in their long careers.

And what will be the youngest coaching duo in Week 2? They’ll be on the field in Chicago, when the New York Giants play the Bears. Chicago coach Matt Nagy is 42; the Giants’ Joe Judge is 38.

–Field Level Media