Ernie Adams has Bill Belichick’s ear, literally. He’s the one charting trends and judging close plays during games, then delivering his instant analysis to the Patriots head coach’s headset.
Although Adams’s official title is football research director, Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy recently offered a description that seems to better capture his importance to the franchise.
“Yo, he’s the man. Silent assassin,” Van Noy told Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast. “He’s smart as s***. He’s very wealthy, made a bunch of money off the field. I’ve sat and talked with him about Wall Street stuff — whew — over my head.”
The friendship between Adams and Belichick dates back to their high school days at Phillips Academy in Andover. The pair rose through the NFL coaching ranks together, though Adams often stayed in the background breaking down film and gleaning sharp insights from analytics.
As Van Noy noted, Adams’s intellect served him well during his two stints away from football. He spent six years on Wall Street as a municipal bond trader before Belichick was named head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 1991 and brought Adams along as an assistant coach.
Then, when the Browns fired Belichick in 1996, Adams left to open his own investment business. He returned to the sport four years later after Belichick took over as head coach in Foxborough.
“Those of us who know Ernie best understand that he is extremely well-rounded,” Belichick once said in an ESPN profile of his longtime advisor. “He is one of the most educated, well-read and well-traveled people I have ever met. He is extremely knowledgeable in a number of areas, so his decision to pursue another field was perfectly reasonable to me. That said, I’m glad he decided to come back to football.”
So are the Patriots. After Adams helped them to a sixth Super Bowl championship, Van Noy described the intrigue around the secretive figure.
“He’s hard at first to talk to because you don’t really know what to say, but then when you’re around him all the time and you see how he moves and acts you want to know more about it. He’s just mysterious,” Van Noy said.
The linebacker — who had a sack and a tackle for loss against the Rams — shared an anecdote about Adams from 2016, when his exhaustive research paid dividends in a goal-line stand against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I wasn’t in at the time but I remember the play because Ernie said, ‘They’re gonna run this play.’ We got a tackle for a loss and it’s kinda crazy,” Van Noy said. “One of the players came to the sideline and was like, ‘Damn, that’s the play Ernie was talking about.’ That’s just one that comes to mind. He’s done it all year long. He has a photographic memory.”
Van Noy agreed with the hosts that Adams should write a book. Patriots fans would certainly appreciate a peek into the relationship between two architects — one known as an all-time great, the other anonymous — of the dynasty.
“Can you imagine [those] two in high school?” Van Noy laughed.