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Bill Belichick, Patriots mutually part ways: Full statements from Belichick, owner Robert Kraft

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots mutually agreed to part ways on Thursday after 24 seasons and six Super Bowl championships. Below is the full text of Belichick and Robert Kraft's statements to the media announcing the end of the Belichick era in New England.

Statement from former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick:

"Good morning. I haven't seen this many cameras since we signed (Tim) Tebow."

"Robert (Kraft) and I, after a series of discussions, have mutually agreed to part ways. For me, this is a day of gratitude and celebration. I'll start with Robert and his family. So much thanks for the opportunity to be the coach here for 24 years. It's an amazing opportunity, and I received tremendous support. We had a vision of building a winner, building a championship football team here. That's exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations, the amount of success we were able to achieve together through a lot of hard work and the contributions of so many people. Very proud of that, and I will always have those great memories. I'll carry those with me the rest of my life. Of course, after Robert, thanks to the assistant coaches. I've had so many great coaches here that made my job so much easier. It's a long list, but the amount of work, preparation and diligence that they do -- every one of them -- and I say this about the players and the coaches regardless of how long they were here, how many years they were here, how many years they coached or what their position was, it was a great team effort and everybody out everything they had into it. That's why we were successful. To the coaches and the support staff, it's an amazing staff here that supported me in every way, all the scouting, all the football support people from equipment, training, security, video, operations and so forth down the line. Dining room, It's all first class, it's all extremely good.

"Of course, a great deal of thanks and appreciation to the players. Players win games in the NFL, and I've been very very fortunate to coach some of the greatest players that have ever played, some of the greatest players that have played for the Patriots, some of them already in the Hall of Fame and many more are going. Again, regardless of how long any of the players were or weren't here or what their role was or how many games they played or even if they didn't win championships, I respect the way the players come to work here on a daily basis. All of them, and I've coached well over a thousand. Their ability to work, prepare, train in the weight room, train their bodies, meet, rehearse over and over again what we need to do things right to be successful to win. I have so much respect for all the players, and certainly we've had many that have been here for a long time, had great contributions. Too many to name at this time, but great thanks to the players.

"To the media, for you guys, I don't know if anyone's gotten more coverage than I have, or we have in the past 24 years. I've given you guys a lot of respect in what you do. You're our voice to the fans. Even though we didn't always see eye-to-eye all the time -- most of the time -- but not all the time, I do respect what you do. 

"And finally, to the fans. The fans here are amazing. So many memories of the fans -- the sendoffs, the praise, the Sundays -- whatever the situations are, the letters of support, seeing the fans away from here at a gas station or grocery store or wherever you bump into them. Patriot fans here, and not just in New England -- they extend nationally and even internationally as I've travelled; it's amazing how far the arm reaches, we saw that this year in Germany. So appreciative of the fans for all the support they've given me, my family and this football team. So many fond memories and thoughts that I think about the Patriots. 

"I will always be a Patriot. I look forward to coming back here but, at this time, we're going to move on. I look forward and am excited for the future. Always very very appreciative of the opportunity here, the support here and Robert what you've done for me. Thank you."

Statement from Patriots owner Robert Kraft:

"Good afternoon everyone, and as Bill mentioned, yesterday we met and mutually agreed to part ways amicably. Like a good marriage, a successful head coach-owner relationship requires a lot of hard work. I'm very proud that our partnership lasted for 24 years. I don't think in the NFL there's been any other partnership that lasted longer and has been as productive as ours. I trusted my instincts to bring Bill back to New England in 2000 after immediately regretting not hiring him after working with him together in 1996.

"When I did hire him, I was still making the transition from the fan who bought season tickets in '71, sitting on the metal benches in the old Foxborough stadium with my boys to try to become an experienced owner. Bill has taught me a lot over those years, and we had high expectations for what we could achieve together. I think we were the only ones who had those expectations. I think it's safe to say we exceeded them thanks to you. It's hard to put into words really when I think back to sitting on those metal benches that we'd have the opportunity to go to 10 Super Bowls together and bring six Lombardi Trophies home to Massachusetts.

At heart, I will always be a sentimental sports fan, so this is a very emotional day for me. Some of my happiest and most memorable moments were celebrated with my family during Bill's tenure here. I recognize that it also is a very emotional day for many of our fans, and most of our fans. As it represents the end of an era, one that hopefully will always be celebrated in this region. The man standing to my left brought the leadership and coaching skills that were needed to make this type of unprecedented success that we have had possible. Coach Belichick will forever be celebrated as a legendary sports icon here in New England, and I believe go in as a Pro Football Hall of Famer on the first ballot. Why? Because he is the greatest coach of all time, which makes this decision to part ways so hard. But this is a move that we mutually agreed that is needed at this time. What Bill accomplished with us, in my opinion, will never be replicated. And the fact that it was done in the salary-cap and free-agency era makes it even more extraordinary. I thank Coach Bill for his hard work and dedication. It will be difficult to see him in a cut-off hoodie on the sideline, but I always will continue to wish him continued success except when he's playing our beloved Patriots. I thank you all for coming here today and being part of this celebration."

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