FOXBORO — New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a reputation of keeping his focus intently on the present, with a watchful eye towards the future.
One thing for which he is not known is dwelling on the past.
Therefore, when asked about the recent development surrounding contract tampering, a heated divisional rival and his most notable ex-player, Belichick remained true to character.
“Yeah, I’m not really worried about that,” Belichick stoically told reporters on Wednesday. “We’re just trying to have a good training camp here.”
On Tuesday, the NFL announced their findings of “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity” against the Miami Dolphins, with regard to their sixth-month investigation into the organization’s involvement in both tampering and tanking.
In an interesting twist for Patriots fans, the Dolphins were found guilty of secretly recruiting former Pats’ quarterback Tom Brady as far back as August 2019, while he was still under contract with New England. As such, the Dolphins are forced to forfeit a first-round draft pick in 2023, a third-round pick in 2024 and owner Stephen Ross is suspended through Oct. 17 and fined $1.5 million. Also, Dolphins minority owner Bruce Beal, who was the main point of contract with Brady, was fined $500,000 and banned from NFL meetings for the rest of 2022.
Brady eventually left the team via free agency prior to the 2020 season. However, he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than the Dolphins. Rumors surrounding potential tampering by the Dolphins again resurfaced during this past offseason, amidst Brady’s brief retirement and uncertain contract status with the Bucs for the upcoming season.
While seeking a head coach’s thoughts on the issue of an AFC East rival attempting to poach his best player while still under contract would seemingly provide immediate cause for concern, Belichick’s focus remains unwavering.
“I’m focused on training camp here,” he said. “That’s all in the past.”
For the immediate future, New England returns to the practice fields on Wednesday. However, the Patriots are set to play the Dolphins twice in 2022: opening the season at Miami Sept. 11 and at Gillette Stadium Jan. 1.
Despite his intent to downplay their significance, both games are now likely to be circled a bit thicker on Belichick’s 2022 NFL season calendar.