The 2021 NFL Draft was the last of Ernie Adams’ decades-long tenure with the New England Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick announced Saturday.
Adams, the Patriots’ director of football research, worked in the Patriots organization from 1975 to 1978 and from 2000 through the present, handing a wide range of behind-the-scenes tasks. The 68-year-old also worked alongside Belichick with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns in the 1980s and ’90s.
Belichick lauded Adams for his contributions to the franchise.
“With Ernie Adams, this was his last draft,” Belichick said after the Patriots made their final Day 3 selection. “Certainly, he’s been a huge part of the draft process for the New England Patriots, going all the way to Coach (Chuck) 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.”
It’s unclear whether Adams will remain with the Patriots in a different capacity. Asked if Adams was retiring, Belichick replied:
“I just wanted to give an opportunity here as we close out this draft to thank Ernie for all he’s done and recognize all that he’s done. So that’s really what it is.”
Belichick and Adams were classmates, football teammates and close friends at Phillips Andover in the early 1970s and first worked together professionally with the Giants in 1979. Belichick had Adams on staff during as an offensive assistant during his head-coaching stint in Cleveland (1991 to 1995), then hired him for his current role once he took over the Patriots in 2000.
Adams, who also had a successful career on Wall Street between his NFL gigs, became a cult hero among Patriots fans after his appearance in the original “Do Your Job” documentary. The meaning of “Pink Stripes,” which was scrawled on a whiteboard behind Adams while he discussed Malcolm Butler and Super Bowl XLIX, remains a mystery.
“I think Ernie’s contributions are historic,” Belichick said. “They traverse several decades and so many different areas, into every corner of the room and then some. He’s literally been involved in every single aspect of the football program at every level that you could possibly be involved in and has done an outstanding job in all of them.
“Not all coaches have the kind of involvement that Ernie’s had in the draft process throughout his career, and his knowledge, experience, decisions, organization, being part of the process and the way he’s set it up and taught it to really all the people that have come through here, from Scott (Pioli) to Nick (Caserio) to all the scouts and so forth. Really, he’s had a big hand it going back to the foundation when it was laid in the early ’70s with Bucko (Kilroy) and Chuck. It’s on a major level.”
The Patriots selected a total of eight players in Adams’ final draft: Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore, Oklahoma edge rusher Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson, Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone, Missouri safety Joshuah Bledsoe, Colorado offensive tackle William Sherman and UCF wide receiver Tre Nixon.