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Jonathan Kraft on Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Donald Trump: ‘The New England Patriots didn’t endorse anyone or anything’ 11.13.16 at 8:23 pm ET
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Jonathan Kraft

Jonathan Kraft

FOXBORO — Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft attempted to close the book on the controversy over political endorsements from two high profile personalities on his team.

President-elect Donald Trump spoke Monday night in New Hampshire, on the eve of the election, reading an endorsement from head coach Bill Belichick and proclaiming support from quarterback Tom Brady.

On Sunday night, before the team’s nationally televised game against the Seahawks, Kraft spoke on the subject on the team’s radio pregame show.

“There’s a federal law within a business, you can’t coerce people,” Kraft said. “To me, the greatest thing of the last couple of months is the political discourse, you can’t say the Presidential race wasn’t interesting. Everybody is entitled.. It’s freedom of speech. No matter which side, from town councilor up to President, you have a right.

“The brand and the business of the New England Patriots didn’t endorse anyone or anything. I’m sure if you go into the locker room, there were others on the other side. There’s no way you put 53 guys in a locker room [and expect total agreement].”

Kraft also spoke for an extended time about his time with Pete Carroll, when he was the head coach of the Patriots from 1997-99. Carroll made the playoffs the first two seasons, winning a playoff game in Jan. 1998 before leaving after an 8-8 non-playoff season in ’99.

“Growing up, I hated USC. When Pete got there, I became a USC fan,” Kraft said of Carroll after his departure and eventual landing with the Trojans.

“I think there was definitely a learning curve because we inherited [Bill] Parcells. ’93 was a year for [cap] cleanup. In ’94, because owner was leaving and Parcells was there, there was no planning.”

The Kraft family assumed ownership in 1994 and immediately tried convincing Parcells of the need to manage the cap more aggressively.
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Donald Trump, Jonathan Kraft
Jacoby Brissett might start Thursday but admits his game still ‘a work in progress’ 08.28.16 at 4:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Coming off a perfect 9-for-9 effort Friday night in Charlotte, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett says he’s ready for whatever assignment he’s given this Thursday at MetLife Stadium in the preseason finale against the Giants.

Brissett threw for 83 yards and a 12-yard TD pass to DeAndre Carter over the middle.

Just how comfortable did Brissett feel?

“It’s a work in progress,” Brissett said Sunday afternoon after watching film. “Just trying to get better each day, step out there and learn from everything that happens in the game and practice.”

Bill Belichick left open the possibility of Brissett starting Thursday night, possibly playing the entire game. If that pans out, will Brissett change his approach or mindset heading in?

“No, not at all. You prepare every week as if you’re starting and go out there and make sure you’re on the same level as the guys on the field,” Brissett said.

As for the 9-for-9 efffort, “A good day but a lot of improvement to make a lot of things to get better at,” Brissett said.

There’s no question Friday lifted the confidence level of Brissett.

“Definitely, with progress and time, playing more, practicing more so you get more familiar with things that we’re doing. It’s still an ongoing process of learning and getting better,” he said.

But where does the most learning need to take place? For Brissett, it’s the playbook.

“Still learning it. I think every day until I leave here, I’ll still be learning something about it,” Brissett said. “Just battling each day and tackle new points and learn new things every day. Definitely but you see some of the things that you messed up on and could’ve done better. That’s the main thing you really take away from that situation.

“Every day is something new. You know that going into it but you actually see it and you’re like, ‘Alight, I understand.’ You never finish learning.”

His mentor, ex-NFL coach Bill Parcells has kept in touch with Brissett.

“Here and there,” Brissett said, adding that much of what the former coach told him has come to pass in the NFL so far. “A lot of it but he’s not the head coach here so you’ve got to listen to what your coach says, either if it’s good or bad. You do what you’re told to do.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Jacoby Brissett, New England Patriots
Per Mike Francesa, Adam Vinatieri was almost released by Bill Parcells in 1996 05.18.16 at 2:32 pm ET
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Adam Vinatieri was almost cut by the Patriots as a rookie. (Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri was almost cut by the Patriots as a rookie. (Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri’s career with the Patriots was defined by a series of clutch kicks which allowed him to grab the mantle of best big-game kicker of his generation.

But his time in New England was almost over before it began. In an interview with Bill Simmons earlier this week, Mike Francesa, a longtime friend of former Patriots’ coach Bill Parcells, said that Parcells came close to releasing the kicker when he was a rookie in 1996.

In a 17-10 loss to Buffalo in Week 2, Vinatieri missed three field goals (45, 25 and 46 yards). The following week against Arizona, he missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter, as well as an extra point. Late in that game with the Patriots leading 28-0, Parcells sent Vinatieri back onto the field for a 31-yard field goal attempt. According to Francesa — who told the story on his radio show — Vinatieri’s job was at stake when he returned to the field.

“I’ve had it with that kicker,” Parcells said, according to Francesa. “If he had missed it, I would have cut him.

“I told him, ‘You better make this kick’ before I sent him out there. And he made the kick, and he gained confidence little by little. And look who he became.”

Vinatieri eventually became a key part of three Super Bowl teams with the Patriots, and another with the Colts. At 43, he’s currently the oldest player in the league.

Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Bill Parcells, Mike Francesa,
Jacoby Brissett on his role as a quarterback: ‘I’m a rookie. I just got here’ 05.11.16 at 9:58 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Just one minute into his first media scrum with reporters Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, Jacoby Brissett was hit with the Tom Brady questions.

Does he see himself competing with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo at the quarterback position?

“I’m a rookie. I just got here. I’m trying to learn as much as I can and when my chance comes, it’ll come,” the quarterback out of North Carolina State told the horde.

What are his impressions of being in the same room with No. 12?

“Just the way he carries himself. Obviously, he’s a great player,” he added. “Just excited to have this opportunity to learn from him.”

How much is he looking forward to learning from Brady and Garoppolo?

“They’re great,” Brissett added. “They’re teaching me a lot now and [I] just continue to learn from them and try to be the best player that I can.”

Brissett, who is the only drafted rookie on the roster who hasn’t signed his contract, said he’s not worried about his contract but rather learning the playbook and what Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels expect from him.

“Definitely, definitely. They’re great coaches and I’m excited to be a part of the organization and get to learning,” Brissett added.

Much was made of Brissett’s pre-draft work with Bill Parcells, who said that Brissett would be a developmental quarterback, not quite ready to play right out of the gate.

“Right now just to take it all in and understand that it’s a great learning experience, a great opportunity to learn from some great people,” Brissett said. “We’re all still learning so we’re learning the ins and outs and what we’re supposed to do.

“It’s been great because a lot of those guys – we’re all learning – so it’s like nobody has a heads up on each other, so it’s been exciting.”

For the most part, Brissett’s answers were short and to the point, in keeping with most rookies who come through the Patriots system in their first year.

“It’s been a great experience. Learning every day and excited to be here,” Brissett said. “It’s been a great opportunity for all of us to get around this team and see why they do so well.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Jacoby Brissett, Josh McDaniels
Why Patriots chose Jacoby Brissett : ‘We were going to add a third quarterback, regardless’ of Tom Brady 04.30.16 at 8:18 am ET
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The Patriots took QB Jacoby Brissett with pick No. 91. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots took QB Jacoby Brissett with pick No. 91. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The re-imposed four-game suspension of Tom Brady did not impact the Patriots decision to draft a quarterback in the third round Friday night.

The Patriots director of player personnel, Nick Caserio, insisted that the team was going to draft a quarterback regardless of what decision was reached by the Second Circuit Appellate Court. It just so happened the Patriots went with Jacoby Brissett, a teammate of the offensive lineman Joe Thuney they took earlier in the third round.

“We have two quarterbacks on our roster so we knew we were going to add a third quarterback, regardless of whatever the situation was,” Caserio said. “So, very rarely have we gone through a spring with two quarterbacks. Sometimes we’ve had three, sometimes we’ve had four. So, we knew we were going to have a third quarterback on the team regardless. That’s always an important position on your team. We felt that it was important for us to have a player that we felt comfortable with. So that’s why we picked Brissett.”

It just so happens the Patriots went with a developmental quarterback over the likes of Connor Cook, Dak Prescott or Cardale Jones, all of whom were available and still undrafted as the fourth round began Saturday. The reason the Patriots drafted Brissett might lie in his work with Charlie Weis and Bill Parcells. It was Weis who helped recruit him to Florida and played for Weis at Florida when Weis was the offensive coordinator.

“Sure, it had been a while since he played with Charlie,” Caserio said. “Charlie was involved with the recruiting process with him there at Florida. There were a lot of moving parts at the time. Then they made the coaching change, the situation just made the most sense for him to leave. I think having experience with Charlie – we all know how good of a coach Charlie is, how demanding he is and some of those types of things. Whether or not the system was the same – I think it is but it isn’t. There’s an evolution on both sides of it, so but having experience with Charlie, he could probably take hard coaching. So, that won’t be an issue.”

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Read More: 2016 NFL Draft, Bill Parcells, Charlie Weis, Jacoby Brissett
New Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett thankful for learning from Charlie Weis, Bill Parcells at 12:13 am ET
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Jacoby Brissett was infulenced by both Charlie Weis and Bill Parcells. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

Jacoby Brissett was infulenced by both Charlie Weis and Bill Parcells. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The Patriots took N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the third-round with pick No. 91.

The 6-foot-4, 231-pounder said he didn’t know the team would select him until he got a phone call prior to the pick.

“I had a great visit when I was up there with those guys a couple of weeks ago and I’m just overjoyed and excited about the opportunity to learn from the Patriots — Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady,” Brissett said on a conference call after the selection. “When I got my call it was crazy.”

Brissett said Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft spoke to him over the phone.

He has two connections to the Patriots and their staff in relationships with Charlie Weis and Bill Parcells. Weis recruited Brissett in his one year as Florida’s offensive coordinator in 2011.

Brissett later transferred to N.C. State.

“I think it was tremendous,” Brissett said. “Some of the stuff that the Patriots do now, kind of gave me a little familiarity with some of the stuff when I went up there. … I think he was instrumental to my learning curve in college and I definitely carry a lot of things he instilled in me at Florida.”

He’s also become close to Parcells over the years as Parcells has a house near his high school — William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Brissett has stayed close with Parcells and said he “can’t thank him enough” for all that he’s done for him.

“It started in high school,” Brissett said. “He has a house out here and he comes around my high school a lot — knows my high school coach Jack Daniels, a real good friend. I got the pleasure to meet him and I can’t even describe what type of person he is and how he benefits my life. Just help growing me as a man and preparing me for tough times, hard times, good times. He’s been so helpful to me throughout this process and keeping me steady and with a good head on my shoulders. I can’t thank him enough.”

Director of player personnel Nick Caserio acknowledged the two connections and while they weren’t the only reason in selecting him, they certainly didn’t hurt.

Read More: 2016 NFL Draft, Bill Parcells, Charlie Weis, Jacoby Brissett
Bill Belichick on Tom Coughlin: ‘He deserves a lot of credit for all he’s accomplished in his career’ 01.05.16 at 11:29 am ET
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Tom Coughlin meets Bill Belichick after the Patriots 27-26 win at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 15.  (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Tom Coughlin meets Bill Belichick after the Patriots 27-26 win at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 15. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

The likely end of Tom Coughlin‘s career as an NFL head coach came to pass on Monday when he met with Giants co-owner John Mara and Steve Tisch and informed them that he would be stepping down immediately as head coach.

There is not another head coach in the NFL that knows Coughlin any better than Bill Belichick.

The two were on Bill Parcells‘ staff with the Giants from 1988-90. Coughlin was a wide receivers coach while Belichick was the defensive coordinator. They helped the Giants win Super Bowl XXV over the Bills. Coughlin, who turns 70 this August, then took over as head coach at Boston College before leaving after 1993 to become the first head coach in the history of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He led them to the AFC title game in 1996, where they lost to Parcells, Belichick and the Patriots at Foxboro Stadium.

“Tom’s had a great career as a head coach and an assistant coach,” Belichick said in conference call Tuesday. “BC, Jacksonville, New York. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time. I have a lot of respect for Tom, his family, the way he approaches his job and the way he coaches. We have a great relationship at the Giants when we were on the same staff and had good relationships through our respective careers.”

Most famously, Coughlin spent his last 12 years as head coach of the Giants, gaining a bit of revenge over Belichick twice on the game’s biggest stage. Coughlin will be most remembered as the head coach that ended the Patriots’ perfect season bid in Feb. 2008 when he beat Belichick’s Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII. Coughlin did it again four years later, 21-17, in Super Bowl XLVI.

Their final meeting came this season when Stephen Gostkowski‘s kick at the end gave the Patriots a 27-26 win at MetLife Stadium over the Giants.

“Lots for him to be proud of,” Belichick said. “Unfortunately, a couple of his biggest wins came at our expense. He deserves a lot of credit for all he’s accomplished in his career.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Boston College, Jacksonville Jaguars
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