FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick commented publicly for the first time since the NFL levied penalties against the franchise for underinflated footballs, saying he isn’t looking back.
“That’s a long time ago,” Belichick said when asked whether the issue has affected any of the team’s enjoyment from winning the Super Bowl. “We’re on to next year. It’s 2015. You can forget about last year. That was last year.”
Belichick’s remarks came Friday after the organized team activity at Gillette Stadium, where quarterback Tom Brady — who has been suspended for the first four games — participated and took his standard repetitions for a spring practice.
The appeal hearing for Brady’s four-game suspension will be held June 23, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. If necessary, the hearing would continue on June 25, the source said.
Brady split practice reps with backup Jimmy Garoppolo at close to a 50-50 ratio in full team drills, but was always first leading the drills, then followed by Garoppolo.
Belichick cautioned anyone from looking too closely into how the repetitions were divided.
“We’re trying to get everyone an opportunity to learn our system and be able to compete and play. Competition will really come in training camp. This is more of a teaching camp than a competitive camp,” he said.
“We want to try to get everyone an opportunity to learn, understand plays, know what to do, then let them compete in training camp. Then it’s up to them.”
Asked whether the Patriots were preparing to start Garoppolo in the season opener, Belichick said, “We’re just going day by day right now. Everybody’s working hard, trying to get better. That’s what we’re all doing.”
Belichick also deflected a query about a fan movement to postpone the unveiling of the team’s Super Bowl banner until Brady was in uniform.
“Right now we’re just concentrating on our practices out here,” he said.
As for Garoppolo, he said he spent time in California this offseason, working with a couple of wide receivers. He described his routine as standard operating procedure.
Is he preparing himself to be the starter?
“I’m just going out to practice every day, trying to improve, trying to get my teammates better, me better, and we’ll go from there,” he said. “I just have the mindset I’m trying to get better. That’s all you can control at the end of the day.”
Asked about Brady, Garoppolo said, “He’s accomplished a ton — four Super Bowl rings, that’s as impressive as it gets. You have to worry about the things that you can control, and coming out here every day, I try to improve every day. That’s all I can worry about right now.”