David Andrews is well-established as the New England Patriots’ starting center these days, and one of the best players the franchise has ever had at the position. Back in 2015, however, he was an undrafted rookie free agent trying to carve out a role on a team that had just won the Super Bowl the previous season.
When he arrived in New England out of the University of Georgia, Andrews also got to meet the Patriots’ mystery man: Ernie Adams. Earlier this week, with Adams having announced his retirement after four decades in the league, he spoke about one particular meeting the two men had during Andrews’ rookie season.
“Ernie’s kind of like a mysterious, mythical creature in the building when you come in as a rookie,” Andrews said.
“My rookie year was just after they did the big documentary on the 2014 season, and that was the first thing I ever remember about Ernie Adams — that documentary and him in his office talking about the Malcolm Butler play. It was just like, ‘What does this guy really do?’”
Adams’ role has been one of mystique and speculation going all the way back to his time with the Cleveland Browns in the early 1990s. Back then, team owner Art Modell allegedly told his staff that he would pay anyone $10,000 if they could tell him what Adams’ job within his organization really was.
Since joining the Patriots alongside Bill Belichick in 2000, the legend of Ernie Adams only grew. He became a central figure in countless unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and rumors about the Patriots’ inner workings. He was involved in every aspect of the team, but nobody outside the building quite seemed to know what he was actually doing.
Andrews, meanwhile, got to meet him on a more accessible level back in 2015.
“I remember I fumbled a snap in spring or training camp, something early,” he said this week. “We were running a guard pull play. Bill obviously didn’t like that very much, and I ended up running a lap.
“But then Ernie after practice at some point talked to me and just talked about how that’s one of the harder snaps because the quarterback’s pulling away at the opposite direction for the handoff; you’re going flat down the line to try to cut somebody off in a penetrating position. So he just talked to me about that, and ever since then, I kind of was like, ‘Wow. All right.’”
While Adams’ advice after that particular mistake was not the reason why Andrews ended up making New England’s roster that year, it did leave an early impression on the young lineman. He continued to confer with Adams whenever he got the chance to do so.
“I always made an effort to talk to Ernie when he was in the building, when I passed him in the building, about rules. Whatever it may be, he’s like an encyclopedia,” he said.
“Ernie will definitely be missed around the building, that’s for sure.”