Stephen A. Smith believes one decision has come back to haunt Bill Belichick

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

After the initial shock settled regarding Bill Belichick's departure from the Patriots, the intrigue of where he would wind up next dominated conversation amongst the fans and media. At first, it looked like everything was in line for him to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, even having multiple meetings with owner Arthur Blank.

Somewhere along the way, a change happened, and the team decided to go in a different direction, hiring Raheem Morris for the position last week. Questions began to arise about Atlanta's choice to forgo moving ahead with Belichick, an 8-time Super Bowl Champion coach, with most feeling confused about how every other team needs a head coach passed on him as well.

There was a lot of speculation about it, with most concluding that his likely desire to remain in charge of roster building and most general manager duties was the ultimate deterrent. However, analysts and commentators have suggested a new possible theory to explain the strange turn of events.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith strongly believes there's one decision from Belichick's tenure in New England that is haunting him in search of a new team. Besides wanting to continue as a GM somewhere, Smith feels his complicity in allowing Tom Brady to leave the Patriots in 2020 is a red flag to teams, hindering his chances of even interviewing with them.

“You cannot be the guy that pushed Tom Brady out the door. You swear that he doesn’t have it anymore. That man goes on to win the Super Bowl, and you go on to nosedive. You miscalculated. You didn’t evaluate him accurately. But more importantly, you didn’t show him the deference and respect warranted to him. That kind of stain doesn’t just resonate with players, it resonates with other executives, it resonates with owners.

“I don’t believe that Bill Belichick would be in this position, despite his struggles, if Tom Brady had just retired and Bill Belichick to Tom Brady: ‘Man, I’m gonna miss this brother. He’s so special. I love him to death. I wish he didn’t go, but Tom Brady says it’s time to walk away.’ And then you’re trying to retool, retool, retool and retool, and that just didn’t work out. That’s not what happened.”

Considering the absolute soap opera that time was for the Patriots, it's unsurprising to believe owners around the league may not want to risk anything by bringing Belichick in. And it's not limited to what has been reported to have happened leading up to Brady's exit nearly four years ago.

The countless accounts of unfavorable behind-the-scenes details over the last few seasons have painted Belichick and the atmosphere in Foxboro in a bad light, which would almost certainly make team owners hesitant regardless of how accomplished the former Patriots coach is.

It's not just the Tom Brady situation scaring teams away from Bill Belichick

Smith continued with his theory about why Belichick remains jobless, believing the failed development of Mac Jones along with poor personnel decisions are also playing a part in teams avoiding him.

"When you push Tom Brady out the door, what do you do? You draft Mac Jones. Mac Jones had a pretty good rookie year. What do you do? You bring in Joe Judge and Matt Patricia as an offensive coordinator as opposed to somebody that was going to get him going. Why? Because those are your guys and you wanted to make sure that you displayed dominion over your habitat even at the expense of the collective whole and what was better for the franchise.

“That is what is being held against Bill Belichick because we all know he can coach. But the relationships, the lack thereof, not just with players but with everything, that is coming back to haunt him. That’s why young blood and young thoroughbreds are getting these coaching opportunities, and nobody wanted to come his way.”

That's a fair point as well, especially since most of the teams who fired their head coach this offseason have a young quarterback in need of proper coaching and development. Because Belichick seemed to have failed to do just that with a former first-round player, who he subsequently benched last season, it's no wonder teams who would benefit from a Hall of Fame head coach are looking the other way.

It may keep Belichick sidelined for the 2024 season, which he is allegedly prepared to do, and try again next year. If that's his inevitable fate, it will be the first season in 20+ years we don't have Belichick or Brady in the NFL; that's wild to think about.

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