Belichick, Kraft wisely part ways

Bill Belichick almost seemed poised to shed a tear.

Of course, almost amounts to nothing in teary eyes or Super Bowls, as Belichick well knows, perhaps better than anyone.

Everyone offering opinions in front of TV cameras agreed that it was time for Belichick to go. Lots of Patriots fans agree. Those who don’t are likely to come around once all of the backstories are presented – particularly those tales of who said what and how they said it in the hours required to close the book on the most successful coaching run the NFL has spawned.

It has been suggested that the end of Belichick’s tenure in Foxborough has been tacitly understood since the season took a nosedive in Germany. Robert Kraft was not shy about telling the world of the embarrassment he felt over that dismal loss on an international stage.

So perhaps the owner and coach hashed out their troubles then. If not, here’s betting that Monday, when Kraft and Belichick sat down for a season-ending chat, their coffee was still hot when the topic was broached.

Kraft was sensible enough to realize he couldn’t simply call Belichick into his office, hand him one final check and advise him not to let the door spank him on the way out. He knows, certainly better than anyone, that treating Belichick as if he were just another expendable staffer in a hoodie would not sit well with his patrons.

Both owner and coach were reluctant to hint at a specific issue that broke their bond – not that such a pronouncement was necessary.

The Patriots won four games and lost 13 this season. Coaches whose teams go 4-13 are on the short list of those who are peering over the horizon in hopes of finding their next employer.

Not that Belichick will be unemployed for long. Someone will take him, his kids and his scowl, hoping the magic he kindled here can be reignited.

It won’t be easy. For one thing, there are no Tom Bradys out there for the taking.

The Belichick vs. Brady debate will drone on for as long as anyone who watched them continues breathing. Barstools across New England will spin for generations carrying the weight of that ultimately pointless discussion of who merits the greatest credit for those six Lombardi Trophies.

The championships came with the coach who drafted the quarterback and the quarterback who surprised even himself in his career’s monumental glory. It should be obvious that in tandem they achieved far more than they would have individually.

Treating either of them as if their departure was just one more line of agate in the day’s transactions would constitute idiocy in the first degree.

Belichick and Kraft made nice for the cameras Thursday. It looked sincere.

And even if there remained a smidgen of animosity between them, there can be little doubt that they agreed on one thing:

It was time.