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‘Dante is among the very best assistant coaches ever’: Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft release statements on the retirement of Patriots O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia

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Related: Veteran Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to retire

Super Bowl LIII Staff Photo By Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

The New England Patriots lost their longest-tenured assistant coach to retirement on Tuesday: Dante Scarnecchia, who originally joined the franchise in 1982 and spent a combined 34 seasons working in multiple roles, will end his career in pro football. Needless to say that the 71-year-old, who became New England’s offensive line coach in 1999 and again in 2016 after returning from a two-year retirement, will leave a big hole behind.

Statements released by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft reflect just how important Scarnecchia’s contributions to the entire organization were and how his departure will impact the club both on and off the field: the two men, who were assisted by the veteran coach in building New England’s two-decade long dynasty, praised him for his excellence, ability to get the best out of his players, and relentless work ethic.

“It was a privilege to coach with Dante for so long. I knew that long before his initial retirement and throughout a second act of continued excellence. Dante is among the very best assistant coaches ever,” said Belichick about one of the few assistants he kept in place when he was brought on board as the Patriots’ head coach almost exactly 20 years ago to the day — one that remained on his staff for five of New England’s six Super Bowl wins.

Robert Kraft shared similar sentiments about a man that first arrived in Foxborough in 1982, twelve years before Kraft bought the team: “Dante Scarnecchia has been unbelievable in every way. His contributions to our team and to the game of football are unprecedented over the last four decades. As a coach, he was extraordinarily talented at teaching his players and bringing the most out of each of them.”

“Dante put everything he had into helping his players achieve their maximum potential — the mark of a great coach.” continued Kraft. “Yet even more remarkable is the impact Dante has had on countless players, coaches and staff members who have walked through our doors. He modeled the principles he believed in through his hard work, diligence and integrity. He held himself accountable. He trained alongside his players. He treated everyone with respect.”

“There truly is no way to sum up the incredible career he’s had, the positive impact he’s made on our franchise or how much he will be missed,” added Kraft’s statement. “We are forever grateful for Dante and wish him the absolutely best in his next chapter, along with his lovely wife Susan and his family. The New England Patriots are better because of Dante Scarnecchia, and he will always have a home with us.”

Kraft’s statement sums up well what Scarnecchia brought to the Patriots, and what the team will miss with his retirement: a hard worker who demanded the best not just from his players but himself as well. While the likes of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are often credited with creating the so-called Patriot Way, it was men like Scarnecchia who truly embodied it and turned it from a slogan into the organization’s modus operandi.