The writing was already on the wall, but Ernie Adams had now made it official: after four decades in football, the New England Patriots’ long-time football research director is retiring.
Adams released a statement on Monday night saying that he would now trade his position within the organization for that of a fan:
The last 21 seasons with the New England Patriots have been extraordinary for me. I am fortunate to have been part of a team along with Bill Belichick, outstanding colleagues, patient owners, and a lot of great players. It is time for me to stop working and join the many wonderful fans who have been with us for this run.
The announcement did not come as a surprise, though. Patriots head coach/general manager Bill Belichick had already previously revealed that the 2021 NFL Draft was Adams’ last as a member of the team’s war room. While that alone was no definitive statement about Adams’ future within the organization just yet, Monday made it official that one of the most successful runs in league history has now come to an end.
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.
“Ernie’s contributions are historic. He’s literally been involved in every single aspect of football program at every level that you could possibly be involved in and has done an outstanding job in all of them,” Belichick said about his long-time friend and confidante on Saturday.
“Not all coaches have the kind of involvement that Ernie’s had in the draft process throughout his career. His knowledge, experience and decisions and organization and being part of the process, the way he set it up and taught it to really all the people that have come through here … he’s really had a big hand in the foundation when it was laid in the middle 70s. It’s on a major level.”
The Patriots’ draft room recognized Adams’ services on Saturday as well, letting him hand-pick the team’s final player in the seventh round — wide receiver Tre Nixon — as a gesture of appreciation.