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Falcons owner Arthur Blank denies suggestion Bill Belichick demanded full control of football operations

According to multiple reports, six-time Super Bowl champion coach Bill Belichick managed to draw serious interest from only one team — the Atlanta Falcons — that had a head coaching vacancy during the most recent hiring cycle.

After more than two decades in New England, Belichick mutually agreed to part ways with the Patriots last month. He then penned a goodbye to the fans and organization he had unprecedented success with. 

Despite interviewing with the Falcons multiple times, Belichick did not land the job in Atlanta. The Falcons hired their former defensive coordinator and interim coach Raheem Morris as the franchise’s next head coach.

As the league’s remaining job openings were filled, Belichick was left without an NFL head coaching job for the first time in more than 20 years. However, former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback and current WFAN radio host Boomer Esiason recently suggested Belichick turned down an offer from longtime Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

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“Supposedly, Arthur Blank was bought in to Bill Belichick and could have offered him the job,” Esiason said on “Boomer and Gio.”

“I don’t know why guys say no, but legitimately, an NFL executive basically told me that they believe that Arthur Blank offered Bill the job.”

Bill Belichick talks departure

Belichick was the de facto general manager during his lengthy tenure in New England. He reportedly had final say over the Patriots’ roster during the majority of his time on the Patriots’ sideline. Many believed Belichick would want a similar power dynamic in place for his next head coaching opportunity.

Belichick’s age was also widely discussed during the hiring cycle. He turns 72 in a couple of months, which prompted questions about how long Belichick will remain committed to coaching. 

According to Esiason, the Falcons’ brass may have simply had a change of heart during the interview process. He also suggested Belichick could be open to returning to coaching next season.

Arthur Blank before a Falcons game

“The way it was made sound to me was like, ‘OK, I understand your concerns, but you’re going to have to deal with some of this. And we want you to come in. We want you to be the coach.’ And then maybe he just thought better of it,” Esiason said. 

“And just maybe said, ‘You know what, I don’t want to go right back in. I want a year away, I want to see what happens because we all know there will be about five or six job openings next year.’ And there may be a better situation where an owner says, ‘You know what, I want to go down this path with you, and I want you to take my building over, and I want you to run it the way that you ran it with the New England Patriots.’”

Blank did not attend the introductory press conference for Morris earlier this week. On Friday, he held a virtual press conference, where he set the record straight on whether Belichick made demands about the power structure. 

“I do want to make it 1,000% clear. I want to go to 2,000% or 100,000, whatever percent you want to use,” Blank said. “Bill Belichick never asked in our discussions for control of personnel or the building or anything of that nature.”

He added that Belichick sent a message about his willingness to work with the front office in its current form.

“Our talks were very inclusive, very collaborative. He met [GM] Terry Fontenot. [Belichick] checked out our people doing his own references. He sent me a private text, which I eventually shared with Terry, that he was happy working with him,” Blank noted.

Blank also made it clear that a job offer was never extended to Belichick, saying he had “no idea” where Esiason got the information. 

“Where Boomer [Esiason] heard that from, I have no idea,” he said.

Belichick needs 26 wins to tie legendary coach Don Shula for the most regular-season wins in league history. 

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