Arthur Blank has finally appeared before the media following the decision to pass on Bill Belichick in favor of Raheem Morris.
Albert Breer asked the Falcons owner why Belichick was the wrong fit for Atlanta, and the Sports Illustrated insider prefaced Blank’s answer by stating, “He responded by going narrative hunting.”
“It wasn’t that he was the wrong fit,” Blank says. “We had 14 candidates. We always wanted him. All the issues and questions about Bill relative to power structure were completely unfounded and untrue and based on nothing. All of my discussions with him, he was nothing but collaborative, inclusive, anxious to work with personnel and scouting alongside him. He did his referencing on our organization and felt very comfortable working with them. It really had nothing to do with any of that.
“I think Bill will coach again. I don’t know. But the energy’s there, the passion’s there. We just felt for a variety of reasons when we weighed Raheem [Morris] vs. everybody, that he was just the best choice for us.”
The 81-year-old begins by saying, “We always wanted to hire him.” That’s a pretty damning statement if you ask me. Blank went on to compliment Raheem Morris, saying that he’s excited for the future of the Falcons, but Breer finished with this, “He (Blank) swears he would have been excited about Belichick, too.”
If I’m reading between the lines, that looks like a man who didn’t hire his first choice. It seems to me that Arthur Blank wanted to hire Bill Belichick, but internal pressure from the search committee helped him realize that Morris was the better option.
It wasn’t that Bill Belichick didn’t fit. It’s that Raheem Morris fits better — It’s straight out of the PR handbook they hand you before going to speak to the media. It’s saying something without saying something. Blank didn’t answer Breer’s question at all.
I’m glad the Falcons hired Morris instead of Belichick, but I don’t believe a word of Blank denying the rumors of internal pushback due to the impact Belichick would have on the coaching and front office staff. That’s just my opinion, though.
“A lot of folks figured the problem Belichick would have is the perception that he’d come in and walk all over everyone in a new organization,” Breer added.
Regardless of what transpired behind the scenes, it’s clear the Falcons owner didn’t make the decision completely on his own. Despite what we all might think of the process, the club ended up with a better candidate for them.
Photographer: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire