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Call it the intersection of gruff and Ruff. Bill Belichick let the New England Patriots’ draft go to the dogs Friday … and America embraced the notion that the veteran coach might not be as dour as we’ve been led to believe.

Bill Belichick delivers a humorous moment

It’s possible that no one outside of Boston will remember who the New England Patriots drafted early in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft a week from now. But America will remember that coach Bill Belichick left us with the impression that he put the decision in the paws of his pup.

Social media lit up as Nike, Belichick’s Alaskan Klee Kai, was seen on television coverage sitting behind the laptop computers in the coach’s Nantucket home as the announcement was made that the Patriots had selected safety Kyle Dugger of Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina with the draft’s 37th overall pick.

Belichick capped it off by wandering into the room and rewarding the good boy – the pooch, not the player — with a treat.

The episode counted as another win for the NFL, which is conducting this week’s draft via video conferencing from remote locations because of the coronavirus pandemic. Coaches and general managers, often surrounded by their children, were seen in a new light during Thursday’s first round shown on ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network.

Even frequently maligned commissioner Roger Goodell was receiving positive reviews for his presentation skills as he announced NFL draft picks from his home in New York City’s northern suburbs.

And the country now has a new social media animal star. Smudge the cat’s days dominating Facebook memes may be over now that draft viewers have been introduced to Nike.

This may just ruin Bill Belichick’s reputation

Bill Belichick putting the dog in the house rather than one of his players in the doghouse was a revelation on Friday. Belichick seemingly relishes his image as standoff-ish and condescending – a man whose bite is as bad as his bark — toward the media following games and during weekly news conferences.

Letting the humor that his friends assured us always existed show through in the aftermath of losing the most accomplished quarterback in league history in free agency and trading the generation’s best tight end for draft picks was a breakthrough.

The fact that football fans witnessed the moment made it better. Belichick is no Luddite, but he claims to not be interested in Facebook, Instagram, and other forms of social media. Now, the coach and his dog are the toast of the medium.

Who is new Patriots safety Kyle Dugger?

Lost in the laughter over the television appearance of Bill Belichick’s dog is the fact that the Patriots went the small-school route in making their first selection of the draft. Kyle Dugger became the ninth player in Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University history to be selected by an NFL team.

Dugger made 237 tackles and 10 interceptions on defense during his college career to earn the Cliff Harris Award, which goes to the nation’s top small-school defensive player. The 6-foot-1 safety also returned six punts for touchdowns, helping him become the only Division II player invited to the Senior Bowl following the 2019 season.