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Rob Gronkowski on Patriots football research director Ernie Adams: ‘He’s a mystery to every rookie’

Ernie Adams originally joined New England’s staff in 1975.

NFL Preseason: Philadelphia Eagles Vs New England Patriots At Gillette Stadium Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Who is Ernie Adams and what does he do for the New England Patriots?

It’s a question retired tight end Rob Gronkowski faced on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take earlier this week.

“Yeah, Ernie Adams is the man,” Gronkowski said. “First off, Ernie – he’s a mystery to every rookie, I would say. My rookie year I was always like, ‘Yo, who is this guy?’ He’s on the field every day. I never really met him before, but he’s on the field every day. I walk by him all the time, and it took me like three years to learn who Ernie Adams was, how big of a role he plays and everything. But now I understand. He’s just low-key and he’s a beast.”

Football research director is the official title Adams holds in New England’s media guide.

And the ambiguity of that title only adds to the intrigue behind the hat, the mustache, the glasses and the “Pink Stripes” that once donned his office whiteboard.

“He pulls you aside about once a year and he gives you a tip,” said Gronkowski.

Adams, who attended Phillips Andover Academy alongside Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, originally joined New England’s staff under Chuck Fairbanks in 1975. He’d serve as an offensive and administrative assistant for the Patriots, and held the former role with both the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns up through 1995.

In between was a stint as director of pro personnel for the Giants along with a stint on Wall Street before Adams reconvened with Belichick in Foxborough at the start of the new millennium.

A low profile has been kept. A wealth of insight also has.

“He knows defenses like no other,” the 30-year-old Gronkowski added of the 66-year-old Adams. “He draws up defenses. That’s one of the many things he does, but he’s so good at it. He just knows what he’s doing.”

Even if few others know what Adams is doing.