One of the truly most pleasant, if not somewhat curious aspects of the Patriots hosting the Army-Navy game was how utterly relaxed, entertaining, and downright charming both Mr. Kraft and Bill Belichick were. You wouldn't expect that two wildly successful men who are enduring the most trying time in their impossibly long collaboration would be capable of having such a great time. Instead, you'd assume that they're both stressed out about the fact that one of the hardest decisions that any owner and any coach in the history of professional sports is mere weeks away.
Yet both of these legends conducted themselves with the relaxed, comfortable charisma of two men who know exactly what the future holds. And the reason might be because the decision has already been made. At least it has been according to podcast guest and Patriots insider Tom E. Curran:
Source - According to Patriots insider Tom E. Curran, the Patriots' embarrassing 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt, Germany on Nov. 12 led to the team concluding it would part ways with Belichick after the 2023 season.
"When they came out of Germany, conversations I had that week made it very clear that a decision was made," Curran said Monday on NBC Sports Boston's Arbella Early Edition. ... "They were going to play out the string, and at the end of the year there would be a parting of the ways, for a variety of reasons. ...
"You don't fire Bill Belichick during the season. It's just not gonna happen," Curran said. "Additionally, though, he's an asset. He's under contract for another year, which we reported after NFL Media reported there was a long-term extension in place that would keep Bill locked up long-term. It's only through next year, so that would not be an impediment to them changing course, and it had gone too far.
"The Germany game, the Commanders game, the Saints game: all huge marquee games, and then there was the Chargers game after that. Just because they won last week in Pittsburgh in prime time, I don't think it quells anything."
Believe me, I'd love nothing more than to call bullshit on this whole narrative. Because I don't want to believe it. And also because I'm a couple of cocktails into my night an would rather finish watching Bill Burr's Old Dads.
But I can't. Because Curran has the credibility to be taken seriously on this. I've known him a long time, used to do the Patriots pre- and postgame show with him, and he's never steered me wrong. And he's not one of those reporters who comes at you with some obvious bias or agenda. People tell him things, and he reports what he's told. I'm a big believer that you stop a guy when he tells you something that turns out to not be true. Until then, give him the benefit of the doubt.
But more to the point, this report has the unmistakable air of seeming to be true. At some point, even the best there has ever been in a chosen profession reaches a point where it's on them to prove they still have it. Picture that scene in Oppenheimer (mild spoiler ahead) where J. Robert chats with an aging Albert Einstein by a pond and both men acknowledge a torch has been passed. Time passes us all by eventually. Even those who forever changed the way we perceive reality, like an Einstein or a Belichick.
There is a ways to go still. And we won't find out for sure if Curran's report is right until the process has played out. But by no means is it out of the realm of possibility that RKK and Belichick had a gentleman's agreement based on that Frankfurt trip and that awful, embarrassing loss sealed the fate of both men. Only time and the Patriots public relations department will tell.