Romeo Crennel spent half a century coaching football, but now is riding off into the sunset. The former New England Patriots defensive coordinator announced his retirement on Monday.
“Football has been my entire life and it’s been a dream come true to coach for 50 years,” Crennel wrote in a statement.
Starting his career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Western Kentucky, Crennel spent 11 seasons at the college level before moving to the NFL. Between 1981 and 1992, he worked as an assistant coach for the New York Giants and won a pair of Super Bowl rings along the way.
In 1993, Crennel left to join the Patriots for a first time. He coached their defensive line for four seasons, but followed head coach Bill Parcells to the New York Jets after the 1996 campaign. After three years with the Jets and another with the Cleveland Browns, he returned to New England in 2001.
Head coach Bill Belichick brought him in as defensive coordinator, and Crennel promptly helped New England build one of the NFL’s best defenses — one that won the Super Bowl in his first year in town, and two more times to cap off the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Along the way, the Patriots ranked sixth (2001), 17th (2002), first (2003) and second (2004) in the league in scoring defense.
Crennel left New England after its win in Super Bowl XXXIX, returning to Cleveland as its new head coach. He went just 24-40 during his four years with the club, and was fired after the 2008 season.
“I’ll miss everything about coaching and teaching, but the thing I’ll miss the most is being around the guys every day,” Crennel wrote in his statement. “My goal was to put every player and coach in the best position to succeed and I consider every guy I coached or worked with a part of my family.”
Crennel’s full statement reads as follows:
Football has been my entire life and it’s been a dream come true to coach for 50 years. There are so many friends to thank who have helped me and supported me throughout my career. I especially want to thank the fans and owners of the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans for allowing me to contribute to the game that I have loved so much for so long. I’ll miss everything about coaching and teaching, but the thing I’ll miss the most is being around the guys every day. My goal was to put every player and coach in the best position to succeed and I consider every guy I coached or worked with a part of my family. I would also want to thank my wife Rosemary and my three daughters, Lisa, Tiffany and Kristine, for all of their support over the years. Because of their love and selflessness, I have been able to live out my dream. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to spend more time with my grandchildren while staying around the game of football.