Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank called a Zoom press conference Friday afternoon to clear the air on recent reports about the recent coach selection process. He was absent at a widely viewed press conference earlier this week introducing new head coach Raheem Morris due to a medical issue.
One of the issues Blank touched on that got the most attention was whether former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was formally asked to take on the head coach position with the Falcons that eventually went to Morris, only to be turned down by Belichick.
The controversy was touched off when CBS Sports commentator Boomer Esiason said on WFAN New York’s Boomer and Gio that Belichick was offered the head coach position by Blank, citing information given to him by an NFL executive.
“Supposedly, Arthur Blank was brought in to Bill Belichick, and could have offered him the job,” said Esiason. “I don’t know why guys say no, but legitimately, an NFL executive basically told me that they believe that Arthur Blank offered Bill the job.”
Blank answered back in the press conference, denying that Belichick was offered the job, but was turned down.
“It was NEVER…Bill will tell you this, I will tell you this… he was never offered the job,” said Blank in the press conference. “Where Boomer heard that from I have no idea.”
“There were 14 candidates. It was not any one of the candidates against Bill Belichick,” he said. “It was all 14 candidates, each competing with each other. And we selected the one we thought, for a whole variety of reasons, was the best choice for us.”
Blank also said that it was never a requirement of Belichick to have full control over the Falcons, as reported by some media outlets, and added that Belichick did meet with and have positive things to say about Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot.
“All of these things that were produced by the media were totally not true.”
Blank added that the coach search was a “process” of mostly five to six people who were responsible for looking at the candidates and collaborating to see who was the best choice for the job. “The process drove the process,” he said.
On Morris, Blank said he believes the three years he spent as a defensive coordinator with the L.A. Rams made him a better coach. He felt that Morris used his time with Tampa and L.A. to build relationships with players and staff. This helped Blank and the Falcons decide Morris was the right person for the job.
Blank again acknowledged that the quarterback position needs to improve. “It’s very clear…that this is a position we need to figure out how to get better in 2024 and beyond,” he said. “Whether it be trades, free agency, draft whatever it may be. There are lots of opportunities out there for us and we will look at them all.” As far as how soon will the Falcons be working towards getting that quarterback, Blank stated “There is not a defined plan but it is being talked about and will be talked about intensely in the next few weeks.”
On the coming FIFA World Cup in 2026: “It will be like eight Super Bowls,” he said of the event that will take place in Mercedes Benz Stadium, which will temporarily at that time be renamed “Atlanta Stadium.” “The World Cup in 2026 is a huge deal.”