FOXBORO -- After the first of two joint practices in advance of their preseason game Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, interim Saints coach Joe Vitt and Patriots coach Bill Belichick exchanged compliments of each other's organizations. Vitt went as far as to call the Patriots "the Microsoft of the NFL" as a model franchise. Belichick was humbled by the praise.
"We just try to go out and work hard and get better every day," Belichick said. "We know there are a lot of other great organizations and teams and players and coaches out there. So, it's a good challenge every week. Certainly, the Saints are one of the top teams in professional football. They're well-coached, have great talent, good players, good schemes. They win a lot of games.
"We played against them two years ago, practiced against them two years ago in their championship season so there isn't any team really that we have more respect for than the Saints, from top to bottom. They do a great job all the way around. Instead of playing just one game against a team like this, we really get three good days of work against them to help us get better."
Both owners, Tom Benson of the Saints and Robert Kraft were in attendance as was rock star and Belichick friend Jon Bon Jovi. Benson flew Belichick and Vitt to Philadelphia and back on his private jet so both could attend the funeral for Garrett Reid, the son of Eagles head coach Andy Reid early on Tuesday morning. One person not in attendance was suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton, out for one year due to "Bountygate".
"I miss Sean not being here," Belichick said after Tuesday's 90-minute practice. "I think the world of Sean. He's a great friend. I look forward to seeing him back out here soon."