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Looking back on Ernie Adams’ mysterious and successful tenure with the Patriots

(Photo Credit: Patriots)

Usually, if someone has to continuously ask you what you actually do at work, it’s generally not a good sign.

For longtime New England Patriots employee Ernie Adams, it was always just a part of the job.

After years of work behind the scenes in the Patriots organization, Adams spoke to media members after the team’s last minicamp practice on June 16, 2021, his last with the team.

By doing so, Adams broke a seal of mystery that lasted for decades.

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In that Q&A with local reporters, Adams got the question that was on everyone’s mind: “How would you sum up your job with the Patriots and what you’ve been doing over these years?”

While his official title was director of football research, Adams discussed his ability to utilize his diverse skill set throughout his time in New England.

“Basically, my job is to figure out as many things as I can to help the New England Patriots win football games,” Adams explained. “In the end, that’s what we’re all about here. That’s what we do. So, 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 on me. I could go in any area I thought would help us and hopefully I’ve made some positive contribution.”

If you were to ask Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Adams has made plenty of those positive contributions throughout the success of one of the NFL’s most successful dynasties.

“Ernie’s had such a big impact on our success here with the Patriots in so many different ways,” Belichick continued. “From his organization with Scott [Pioli] in the personnel department and the grading scale and so forth to strategic coaching, situationally, game-planning in all three phases of the game – offense, defense, special teams – team building, personnel acquisition and so forth.”

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Adams played a key role in the Patriots’ success and six Super Bowl titles throughout his tenure, famously pinpointing the play that led to Malcolm Butler’s game-sealing interception at the end of Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks.

Belichick explained that he “leaned heavily” on Adams for countless decades, spanning his tenure as the Patriots head coach, his time with the Cleveland Browns, and the beginning of their friendship more than five decades ago at Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts.

“Ernie’s been a great friend,” Belichick said before introducing Adams to the media. “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 and a lot of people that are doing things that he does for different organizations. “

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A friendship that started almost half a century ago turned out to be one of the most important in New England sports history, and led to one of the more underrated careers the franchise, and the sport in general, has ever seen.

While it’s tough to imagine Belichick leaving Adams alone as the latter drifts into retirement, media availability on June 16 gave the man of mystery one final opportunity to reflect on a historic run with the team.

“It’s been incredible,” Adams said. “If you told me when we started that it’d be 21 seasons with nine Super Bowl [appearances], I’m not sure I would have believed you, but we just grinded 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,” he continued. “I live in the place I want to live and well, winning a lot of football games. It’s hard to beat that.”

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