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Falcons' Arthur Blank says discussions with Bill Belichick were 'never about power': He wanted 'collaborative relationship'

Bill Belichick had total control in New England for 24 seasons.

Many surmised his desire to again be in charge of roster decisions in his next act led to the head coach missing out on a job, but Falcons owner Arthur Blank -- the only one to interview him -- dismissed that notion on Friday.

"I want to be clear really on behalf of Bill, just as a human being and as a storied coach in the history of our league," Blank said on Super Bowl Live. "Been a coach 49 years in the NFL. Bill, during all of our discussions with him, it was never about power, control, needing people to work for him, etcetera. He was interested in coaching. He definitely wanted a collaborative relationship with personnel, scouting. He had done his reference checking on our department, had committed to me that he'd be happy to work with our people. In fact, did it in writing through a text message he sent to me at one point.

"Bill was really focused and is focused on being a great head coach, which is clearly what he has been. We looked at all the candidates that we interviewed, all the time together, and we felt for a variety of reasons that the best choice for us at this point in our lives, the life of the franchise going forward, is Raheem Morris."

When Belichick and the Patriots mutually agreed to part ways, it put the NFL's second-winningest coach of all time on the market, causing many to wonder where the living legend would land next.

But as the hiring cycle unfolded, only one of the seven teams looking to fill a HC void gave him an interview.

The Falcons twice brought Bill in to speak about the position before ultimately hiring Raheem Morris, the Rams' defensive coordinator and Atlanta's interim head coach for 11 games in 2020. While Morris will run all coaching decisions, personnel will fall to general manager Terry Fontenot.

Perhaps that structure would have been different had Belichick earned the job, even if Blank wants it known that requiring GM power was not a discussion nor a factor in choosing to look past him.

From 2000-2023, Belichick served as the Patriots' general manager on top of his head coaching duties.

For so long, the one-man show provided results of unparalleled success.

New England won the AFC East 17 times in Belichick's first 20 seasons, going to nine Super Bowls and winning six.

Having Tom Brady obviously made roster building easier, but he consistently showed a knack for moving on from expensive talent a year early instead of a year late, made big, successful swings such as trading for Randy Moss and loaded his defense with talent -- the Patriots had a top-10 scoring defense 18 times during his reign.

Regardless, things grew stale in recent years, especially with 2021 first-round quarterback Mac Jones failing to fill Brady's enormous shoes. The offense around him seems devoid of top-tier talent, and the once-mighty Pats defense fell outside the top 10 in points allowed for the fourth and fifth seasons of Belichick's career the past two years.

As the other six teams outside of Atlanta and New England filled their vacancies, none opted to interview Belichick.

Whether they were scared off by the decision-making weight Belichick wields or simply wanted to go younger than the 71-year-old, the NFL will now be without him on a sideline for the first time since 1974.

For what it's worth, Blank doesn't see that being the case again in 2025.

"I would say, Bill, he's a very youthful 71. I definitely think he wants to coach again," Blank said. "I'd be shocked if he's not a coach again in the National Football League."

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