Ever since NFL Network aired its behind-the-scenes documentary Do Your Job in 2015, one question has been on the mind of New England Patriots fans everywhere: What does “Pink Stripes” mean?
The two words were prominently written on a whiteboard behind famously seclusive Patriots research director Ernie Adams:
Ernie Adams, Belichick's right hand man behind pink stripes and five Super Bowls pic.twitter.com/Eh0cedU512— Matt Toz (@wizardoftoz1) June 30, 2017
No explanation was given at the time, neither has the phrase been explained since. “Pink Stripes” remains a mystery almost six years after the documentary first aired.
With Adams announcing his retirement earlier this offseason, and making a surprise appearance during a media conference call on Wednesday, ABC6’ Ian Steele saw his chance and asked him about its meaning. The long-time executive did not flinch, however.
“Well, you know, I go back to my Wall Street days. Everything we did we said was ‘proprietary trading information.’ So, I’ll leave it that’s strictly an inside joke and proprietary football information,” Adams said.
This was not the first time he was asked about the meaning behind “Pink Stripes,” though. Adams also had to answer the question as part of an in-house production last year. Back then, he also gave the same answer and labeled the phrase “proprietary football information.”
Even in retirement, Adams would not spill the beans on what “Pink Stripes” really means — if it means anything at all.
That said, he did give some insight on Wednesday albeit on different topics. Adams was asked about his role with the Patriots, for example, and summed it up in rather straight-forward terms.
“Basically, my job is to figure out as many things as I can to help the New England Patriots win football games. In the end, that’s what we’re all about here, that’s what we do,” he said. “Whether it’s strategy, personnel, or anything else. The thing that’s been great about my job is I’ve never really had any constraints put upon me. I could go in any area I thought would help us. Hopefully, I made some positive contribution.”
Adams also spoke about the sometimes mystical aura surrounding him.
“I don’t think I’m a man of mystery, particularly inside the organization and with the people I work with. I always felt that the best thing you could have in a football team is to have fewer voices speaking. You get multiple voices speaking, there’ll be inevitably some inconsistencies. … We’ve just tried to eliminate that, eliminate all the distractions,” he said.
“The people I really care about and the people inside the building that I work with never really thought that that was an issue here.”
With mandatory minicamp coming to a close on Wednesday, so will Adams’ career with the Patriots. The third and final practice that day will be his last before officially heading into retirement.