Even tough he had already announced his retirement earlier this offseason, long-time New England Patriots research director Ernie Adams still stayed around the organization throughout all of spring. However, he will officially ride off into the proverbial sunset very soon.
As head coach Bill Belichick revealed during a media conference call on Wednesday, the Patriots’ final practice of mandatory minicamp would also be Adams’ last with the organization. The club will hold one more session later that day before heading into its summer break.
Belichick later vacated the virtual podium so that Adams could take some final questions from some of the 54 reporters on the call.
“I would say it’s been incredible,” he said when asked how he would sum up his run with the Patriots. “If you’d have told me when we started that it’d be 21 seasons with nine Super Bowl I’m not sure I would have believed you. But, we just grind it out one day at a time and that’s what it’s been. You know, I tell people I have a really hard life: I live in the place I want to live and win a lot of football games. It’s hard to beat that.”
After starting his coaching career at Northwestern in the early 1970s, Adams entered the NFL in 1975 as a member of Chuck Fairbanks’ staff in New England. Being responsible for a variety of tasks — from on-field responsibilities and administrative duties to computer analysis, statistical evaluations and film coordination — Adams carved out a role as a jack of all trades that he would hold throughout his career.
He left the Patriots in 1979 to join the New York Giants, being reunited with former prep school teammate Belichick. With the exception of two separate stints on Wall Street, Adams has worked closely alongside Belichick ever since.
The two joined forces with the Cleveland Browns in 1991, and later reunited in New England when Belichick was hired as head coach in 2000. Since then, Adams has served in his position as football research director — playing a critical role in the Patriots winning six Super Bowls and establishing themselves as the lone dynasty of the salary cap era.
“I’ve leaned heavily on Ernie for 21 years here and going back to Cleveland and New York, and our relationship which started at Andover over 50 years ago,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “Ernie’s been a great friend. He’s certainly been a great asset to this organization and to me personally, and I think that a lot of the things that he’s done have also been recognized by other coaches and other staffs in the league.”
Adams’ legacy in New England will obviously live on. Not only has he helped establish the player grading system still used to this day, he also made the final pick of the team’s 2021 draft: wide receiver Tre Nixon was hand-picked by Adams.