Despite the team not having made an announcement yet, Ivan Fears’ retirement can now be called official. Speaking with Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, the New England Patriots’ long-time running backs coach confirmed previous speculation that he will not be on the sidelines with the team for the 2022 season.
That does not mean he won’t still help out, though. Fears, who was spotted watching organized team activities and the first day of mandatory minicamp from the bleachers, is apparently still offering “tidbits” of information based on his observations.
The 67-year-old did apparently not dismiss being called a running backs consultant, and he would not be the first former assistant coach to serve in such a capacity.
Ex-offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia continued to assist the team after his initial retirement in 2014. Former special teams coordinator Scott O’Brien did the same after stepping away a year later. Now, Fears is still around albeit not in the position he held ever since the Patriots’ 2002 campaign.
“He’s just staying around. He loves the game. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t see him in the building, honestly,” second-year running back Rhamondre Stevenson told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just great seeing him around. I still talk to him. He’s still in everyone’s ear, things like that.”
With Fears’ retired, his former assistant Vinnie Sunseri will be working with Stevenson and the running back group moving forward. The belief is that fellow offensive coach Matt Patricia will also be involved in some capacity.
Fears started his coaching career at his alma mater, William & Mary, in 1976 and after several years at the college level joined the Patriots as their wide receivers coach in 1991. After two years at the job, he left for the Chicago Bears.
Fears returned to New England 1999, coaching the receivers under Pete Carroll. He was retained by new head coach Bill Belichick in 2000 and continued working with the wideouts until moving to the running backs in 2002. He coached the group for 21 seasons and therefore became one of a handful of coaches to be a part of all six of New England’s Super Bowl wins.