When it comes to the storied collaboration between Bill Belichick and Mr. Kraft, one of the most positive aspects has been their dealings with our nation's capital. Type their names and "Washington" into any search bar, and you get these glorious, nostalgic, bipartisan images:
And their dealings with Washington's football team have been an almost constant source of joy. Other than a weird losing effort in late September of 2003, when Tom Brady threw three interceptions in a game against Steve Spurrier of all bloody people (which would be their last loss of the season in the early part of a 34-4 run and back-to-back Super Bowls), the R-words/Football Team/Commanders have been nothing but an endless resource to be exploited. In the four games since, the Patriots are 4-0 by an average score of 36.5 to 12.75. Including a personal favorite, a 52-7 win over Joe Gibbs in the 16-0 2007 season, that was nothing short of elder abuse and helped further cement Belichick's legacy as a monster who deserves to be hunted with torches and pitchforks.
I bring this all up because now if you search those same proper nouns, you get this week's game, of course. But something much darker and more sinister.
Wait. What? Did I … Sorry. I must have dozed off there for a second. I apologize, but these annual rumors that Belichick wants out do this to me every time. I mean, usually it's the Giants. We hear rumblings about how he's longing for those halcyon days of his youth. And wants to recapture the magic of living in New Jersey, living by the Shore, driving the Turnpike like Tony Soprano to Met Life, and hanging out with all his Jersey Rocker pals. Because of course, that is much more alluring than enjoying all the success he's had here, living on Nantucket and having Jon Bon Jovi helicoptered in by Mr. Kraft any time he wants.
This is the same old song, with just a different NFC East team inserted in, Mad Libs style.
But now that I'm awake, let's play along. I have no reason to doubt that there are NFL owners who would trade all their draft capital for the instant credibility that would come from handing the command and control of their operation over to the greatest to ever do it. I don't need to cite the dozens of examples of his assistants getting hired in a vain attempt to replicate his success [casts a sideeye glance at Mark Davis]. The day science masters human cloning, the Krafts will need to add extra security because 31 other teams will be breaking into the office at Gillette to steal a snot rag out of the trash can in Belichick's office. And if he was willing to listen to offers and start a bidding war, Mr. Kraft could wallpaper his Brookline mansion with all the picks he'd get in return.
But why would he send him to Washington, of all godforsaken football outposts? That's not a thing you do to someone you care about. Someone you respect. Dare I say, love. That's punishment duty. The thing you do to a malcontent when he's been showing up late to meetings and talking back to coaches. An Adalius Thomas, a Cassius Marsh, or Randy Moss when he went off the rails in 2010. That's how you send a message to the rest of your troops that insolence won't be tolerated. It's not how you treat the man who built your empire.
Josh Harris' franchise isn't a new opportunity at the end of an unparalleled career. It's exile. It's Napoleon being sent to Elba. Khan being marooned on Ceti Alpha V.
Granted, both those great generals returned to power. And I have no doubt Belichick would too. In short order. I just can't see any reason Mr. Kraft would do this to anyone. Especially someone with whom he's been so close from the day they first started working together in the mid-90s.
Just as a weird historic footnote: If this did ever somehow come to pass, it would be the second time the Patriots lost the most successful football coach of all time to Washington. In 1969, Pats owner Billy Sullivan had a handshake agreement with Vince Lombardi, who had by then semi-retired to the front office in Green Bay. Lomardi quickly realized that desk duty, hanging around shuffling papers and trying not to say "fuck" in front of the secretaries was not for him, and he wanted to get back on the sidelines. But when he mentioned the deal to his lawyer, it all fell apart. The reason being that his lawyer just happened to be Edward Bennett Williams, who was not just a huge DC power broker, but part owner of the then-Redskins. Who then wasted no time ignoring the obvious conflict of interest and hosing Billy. The Patriots' deal would've paid more. But Lombardi took the Washington job because, "I'll get to golf with the President," he said. "Imagine me, a kid from Brooklyn, golfing with the President!" As fate would have it, Lombardi re-retired after one season of 7-5-2. And since the President at the time was Nixon, things didn't end well for either of them.
Anyway, in this case, history is not going to repeat itself. There's too much mutual respect here for RKK to ship Belichick off to DC for any amount of draft capital.