Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons reportedly hosted Bill Belichick on a second interview despite having no intention of hiring him.

“The Falcons’ second interview was granted to Belichick ‘largely out of respect,'” ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Jeremy Fowler reported in a wide-ranging bombshell published Wednesday.

Blank reportedly enjoyed speaking with the longtime New England Patriots head coach during Belichick’s initial interview on the owner’s superyacht. Blank even left that meeting thinking he found his next head coach, ESPN reported.

But Blank’s “top lieutenants,” including CEO Rich McKay, general manager Terry Fontenot and team president Greg Beadles, reportedly did not like the idea of hiring Belichick. Because while Belichick apparently insisted to Blank he only wanted to coach, others inside the Falcons front office felt as if it was inevitable that Belichick would soon want to run the team.

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The fact Blank’s top lieutenants pushed against Belichick swayed the longtime NFL owner, ESPN wrote. As did a conversation Blank reportedly had with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who offered a “stark assessment” of Belichick’s character.

Belichick reportedly was ranked behind at least three other candidates: Raheem Morris, who ultimately accepted the head coaching job, as well as Mike Macdonald and Bobby Slowik.

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Belichick, who reportedly felt confident his second interview had gone well, was blindsided when Atlanta hired Morris.

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