Being arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history, it’s easy to see why Bill Belichick has received most of the credit for the New England Patriots’ dynasty.
While that praise is fully deserved, however, Belichick would be the first to acknowledge the contributions of other members of his staff and front office.
Look no further than the moving statement he penned in honor of longtime executive Ernie Adams’ retirement.
Unfortunately for Belichick, retirement might soon come knocking at the door of another one of his most trusted assistants.
We’re referring to running backs coach Ivan Fears, who actually joined the Pats a year before Belichick was hired as head coach in 2000.
While the 66-year-old is ready to help New England get back to the playoffs this year, it could be his last season on the Patriots’ sidelines.
The Patriots could soon lose another one of Bill Belichick’s assistants.
Speaking to reporters earlier this offseason, Fears was very open about Father Time and discussed the idea of calling it a career after 2021.
"“I’ll let my body determine that one. That’s for sure,” Fears said. The signs are coming quickly. Ain’t no way in the world I’m moving like I used to. You know that. But inside, I love what we do. I love this freaking job.”“I have to be honest with you, I’ve been really fortunate with that. That’s made my job so much easier and a hell of a lot more fun because of the guys I’ve been blessed to have around me. I got a good group now and I’m looking forward to a hell of a year. I really am. Father Time is coming fast. He’s on my back pretty damn good as it goes. But we’ll let that play itself out as we go.”"
If that quote doesn’t signify that next season could be Fears’ last in the NFL, well, good luck finding one that does. We hate to be so pessimistic in light of what has been a groundbreaking offseason for the Patriots, but the thought of Fears retiring should terrify fans.
If 2021 is the end of the road for Fears in the NFL, what a career it has been. Believe it or not, the Virginia native was actually hired as New England’s wide receivers coach before moving to the leader of the running back room three years later in 2002.
Fears has held that position ever since and is largely responsible for developing some of the greatest running backs in Patriots franchise history. Perhaps more impressive is what he got out of overlooked RBs like Kevin Faulk, James White, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Dillon.
And who could forget the work Fears did during years when guys like Stevan Ridley, Laurence Maroney, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Dion Lewis led the team in rushing?
Fears wasn’t always dealt the greatest hand as far as talent is concerned, but nobody did more with less than him, and that’s the ultimate testament to his greatness.
If Fears is approaching his final season, let’s hope he goes out on a high note, which, for him, probably means adding a seventh Lombardi Trophy to the collection and having a running back eclipse the elusive 1,000-yard threshold.