On a conference call to discuss the upcoming NFL Draft, Bill Belichick wasn’t in the mood to talk about Tom Brady.

After thanking first responders and medical workers in an opening statement, Belichick touched on Brady’s exodus, and that was all he was really willing to say.

“At the start of free agency I made a statement about Tom,” Belichick said. “It would be of course impossible to sum up everything Tom did in 20 years into a comment, then or now, but I meant everything I said about him. I’m sure we’ll be talking about him for years and decades to come. Right now we’re moving forward and focusing on the draft.”

Later in the call, Belichick was asked whether the team wanted to bring Brady back.

“I think that’s water under the bridge,” Belichick said. “We’re really just focused on this season and trying to look at our opportunities and make decisions and plan and prepare to be as competitive as we can be this year.”

Was the coach surprised Brady left?

“Again, I think we’ve covered all that,” Belichick replied.

For what it’s worth, Belichick’s statement last month was absolutely glowing.

“Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators. Tom lived and perpetuated our culture. On a daily basis, he was a tone setter and a bar raiser. He won championships in three of his first four years on the field and in three of his final six seasons with us, while competing for championships in most every season in between. This is a credit to Tom’s consistency and what separates him. He didn’t just perform. He didn’t just win. He won championships over and over again.

“Tom and I will always have a great relationship built on love, admiration, respect and appreciation. Tom’s success as a player and his character as a person are exceptional. Nothing about the end of Tom’s Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was. With his relentless competitiveness and longevity, he earned everyone’s adoration and will be celebrated forever. It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years.

“Examples of Tom’s greatness are limitless, going back even before he was drafted. We witnessed how he prepared when he wasn’t playing, how he performed when he got his opportunity, what he did to continuously improve, his leadership, his mindset, the example he set, and, of course, the person he is. I am extremely grateful for what he did for our team and for me personally.

“Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom. He is a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time.”

• • •

Belichick is famously ornery when it comes to technology. The last time we saw him using an expensive WiFi-enabled device was when he was spiking a Microsoft Surface tablet on the sideline out of frustration.

Now, with the coronavirus outbreak keeping team personnel sheltered in their homes, the 67-year-old New England Patriots coach is having to learn some new tricks for a new age in the NFL.

Belichick was asked Monday if he’d mastered video chat technology yet. He’s working on it and did “learn a new button.”

“I’d say mastered is not the right word, but I’m certainly better at it than it was weeks ago. I didn’t even know what half this stuff was,” Belichick said.

The Patriots’ ability to adapt to the current technological landscape will be a huge factor in their success this offseason. Belichick, who has a famously old school approach, credited Patriots IT Specialist Dan Famosi for helping him get up to speed with the new normal right now in the NFL.

“I was starting at the first floor, maybe even the basement,” Belichick said.

The big challenge right now for the Patriots is NFL Draft preparation. Normally, teams would have their doors open to bring in prospects for workouts and visits in additional to visiting pro days at individual schools.

Instead, teams must make do with video conference interviews with prospects. So far, the Patriots have been active in talking to players remotely. FIU quarterback James Morgan and Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland have been reported as prospects who have talked to the Patriots so far.

To that point, New England’s scouting department has been as prolific as ever. Belichick said the Patriots have talked to as many if not more prospects this year than in years past. The fact that team scouts aren’t allowed to travel all over the country may play a factor in that.

For now, the Patriots have a couple of more weeks to prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft, which will be fully virtual, integrating team personnel remotely.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, coaches and GMs will have cameras and equipment installed in their homes to participate, which would include Belichick.


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