Bill Belichick Almost Left The Patriots In 2007 After The Spygate Catastrophe, Says Mike Francesa

Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

You: So you’re meaning to tell me that New York sports media personality Mike Francesca has been sitting on this nugget of information for over a decade, and only until he’s announced his departure from WFAN after getting crushed in the ratings by ESPN New York’s Michael Kay Show, he decides to cough it up?

Me: Listen dude, I’m just as confused as you are. But let’s hear him out.

On Tuesday afternoon, a caller to Francesa’s show asked if he thought Belichick might leave the Patriots for another team. Francesa was adamant he would retire a Patriot, and went on to claim that Belichick almost left the Patriots in 2007 in the wake of Spygate.

A little Spygate refresher: The Patriots were caught videotaping Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals from an unauthorized location during a September 2007 game. While videotaping coaches signals is not illegal, there are designated areas in which a coach can do so. The Patriots were instead videotaping Jets coaches from their own sideline, which Roger Goodell found to be a gross violation of the rules.

The NFL subsequently fined Bill Belichick $500,000 (the maximum allowed by the league and the largest fine ever imposed on a coach), fined the Patriots organization $250,000, and plucked their first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Take it away, Mikey.

“Let me just tell you this: There were rumors, and I’m not going to tell you what team it was because it doesn’t matter now,” Francesa said. “There were rumors that he was thinking of leaving years ago, and that’s when he got in trouble with the league, and Kraft backed him to the moon. And I think that ended any chance of him leaving … they were going to suspend him, Kraft kept him from getting suspended and he was supposed to apologize and he didn’t, and that’s when he got into a rift with the commissioner because Belichick was supposed to apologize and he didn’t.

“But Kraft has backed him to the moon, and I think that ended any chance of him taking a huge-dollar offer from another team, which I think could’ve happened at that point. I think now he and Brady will end their careers as Patriots, I’m not saying at the same time, I’m not saying he’ll leave when Tom leaves, but I think Tom will stay until he’s ready to leave as a Patriot, and I think Belichick will do the same. I doubt he will at this juncture go to another team. I doubt it. I think probably he will stay, now I don’t know how many years he’ll coach, he can coach as long as he wants, he’ll probably coach as long as it’s fun.”

Can you imagine how differently the landscape of the NFL would have looked if Belichick had jetted for, I don’t know, the Bengals? Just try to imagine talking heads discussing whether or not Andy Dalton belongs in the Hall of Fame. I simply don’t have the imagination to conceive that.

I guess Francesa will say anything to get people to stop talking about #FARTGATE.

[h/t NESN]

Matt Keohan Avatar
Matt’s love of writing was born during a sixth grade assembly when it was announced that his essay titled “Why Drugs Are Bad” had taken first prize in D.A.R.E.’s grade-wide contest. The anti-drug people gave him a $50 savings bond for his brave contribution to crime-fighting, and upon the bond’s maturity 10 years later, he used it to buy his very first bag of marijuana.