A first-round draft choice, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and first-team All-Pro by his third season in the league, Jerod Mayo was well on his way to become one of the best linebackers in New England Patriots history in the early 2010s. Then the injuries started: after ending three straight seasons on injured reserve, the team captain eventually announced his retirement in February 2016.
Mayo’s having to step away from the game after his eighth season did give him a head start into his second career, however. While he spent some time away from football immediately after his retirement, he returned to the Patriots in 2019 to take over as their inside linebackers coach.
The transition was not as easy as he made it look, but as Mayo recently explained on the World Reimagined podcast he did get some help in the form of another New England assistant — one who served as a mentor for him despite being a year younger.
“I would say I had some credibility coming back because I was a player. And I would also say most of the time when we talk about mentors or teachers, we’re talking about someone who’s older than us. But what I will say is that I grew a lot with Steve Belichick, that’s Bill’s son. The last couple of years as a player I had some injuries and I wasn’t going to go home and just wallow in my pain,” Mayo said.
“How can I help the team win? How can I help the team win? And so I would spend hours with Steve. Hours, like, breaking down film and he would teach me things as far as inputting the data. And I would teach him things about like how the play is unfolding, how a player actually sees things.”
When the younger Belichick officially joined his father’s staff as a defensive assistant in 2012, Mayo was already well established in the organization. He was the team’s defensive leader both on and off the field.
Through the years that followed both grew into their roles. While Belichick was given positional duties from 2016 on and is seemingly the first in line to be named defensive coordinator one day, Mayo evolved from an on-field playmaker to a veteran voice in the locker room to the Patriots’ inside linebackers coach.
Those experiences together with the hours spent alongside Steve Belichick helped him become one of the most impressive young coaches in the NFL.
How did he do that? Being able to bring people together, whether it was him and Steve Belichick or the different characters in New England’s locker room.
“I don’t want to sound like I toot my horn but I’m able to talk to different groups of people and try to bring them together. That’s how I work,” he said. “How do we get Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy to all see the same play through the same set of goggles? How do I do that?”
Mayo has been able to accomplish those goals and therefore appears to be on a path toward greater responsibilities, and maybe even a head coaching job one day. He already was invited to a head coaching interview with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year, which could be a sign of things to come. For the time being, however, the Patriots will be happy to have him on board — thanks in part to his lessons learned from Steve Belichick.