Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Patriots draft came after the curtain closed Saturday when Bill Belichick revealed it would be the final one for longtime confidant Ernie Adams.
Belichick wouldn’t say if Adams, who carries the title of Football Research Director but wears many hats in the organization, would be relinquishing all of his duties.
Adams started in the Patriots organization as an assistant under Chuck Fairbanks in 1975 and has also been with the Giants and the Browns, where he was an assistant on Belichick’s staff. He returned to New England with Belichick in 2000.
In addition to his research responsibilities, Adams attends every practice and is part of the decision-making team on game days from his perch in the press box.
Belichick called Adams’s contributions to the organization “historic.” As part of team’s Hall of Fame committee, Adams’s stories are encyclopedic and often hysterical.
“Certainly, he’s been a huge part of the draft process for the New England Patriots, going all the way to Coach Fairbanks to the Giants to Cleveland, back to New England.
“The acquisition of a lot of great players, all the process that goes into drafting, grading players, scouting players, setting up the grading scale, trading — really every single thing that’s involved in that, Ernie’s had that seat and that role and been a part of those things in the draft room. It, as always, was great to work with him again over the weekend here.”
Belichick, who went to Phillips Academy with Adams, stopped short of saying Adams was retiring.
“I just wanted to take an opportunity here as we close out the draft to thank Ernie for all he’s done and recognize all that he’s done,” said Belichick. “So, that’s really what it is.”
The coach said Adams’s handprint is multifold in the organization and the number of players, coaches, scouts, and front-office personnel he’s had an effect on is innumerable.
“[His contributions] traverse several decades and so many different areas in every corner of the room and then some,” said Belichick. “He’s literally been involved in every single aspect of the football program at every level that you could possibly be involved in. He’s done an outstanding job on all of them, but not all coaches have the kind of involvement that Ernie’s had in the draft process throughout his career, and his knowledge, experience, and decisions and organization and being part of the process and the way he set it up and taught it to all the people who have come through here from Scott [Pioli] and Nick [Caserio] to all the scouts and so forth. Really he’s had a big hand in it again, going back to the foundation of when it was laid in the middle ’70s with Bucko [Kilroy] and Chuck and so forth. It’s on a major level, but at some point he can talk more about that.”