The most influential Patriot you’d never heard of, at least before he left the team at the end of February, has a new job in Houston.
Jack Easterby, New England team chaplain and character coach dubbed the above in a November feature on Patriots.com, was hired by the Houston Texans on Tuesday as the team’s “executive vice president of team development.” The Texans are his fourth NFL organization, following time working on salary cap matters with Jacksonville, then — following a career shift and a stint as character coach at the University of South Carolina — work with Kansas City and the Patriots.
(In a bit of perfection, Easterby and his wife, Holly, have two daughters: Houston and Harriet.)
Bill Belichick recruited the 35-year-old with a distinct Southern drawl in 2013, to help the Patriots deal with the fallout from the Aaron Hernandez saga. Easterby gained unfortunate experience with such stories while the team chaplain for the Chiefs, helping that organization after linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, then himself in December 2012.
“For so long, many of us around here prayed for someone like Jack that would be able to come alongside and encourage us in many different ways, especially spiritually,” Matthew Slater told Patriots.com. “I think he was the perfect man for the job. He’s just been such an encouragement.”
“We have a lot of issues that come up throughout the year as you can imagine,” Easterby told the Providence Journal during Super Bowl week. “It’s a rollercoaster. A six-month rollercoaster that we go through as a team. I think for us, just trying to be the glue and serve and do anything and everything to get guys to walk together.”
Frequently the first team official that new Patriots meet, and one that both leads team Bible study and is there whenever any crisis arises, Easterby’s contract expired at season’s end. He opted to move on — perhaps notably, as the news broke following the solicitation charges against owner Robert Kraft in Florida.
He is one of many who won’t be back to help defend the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl championship, joining no less than a half-dozen coaches (led by linebackers coach Brian Flores), the retired Rob Gronkowski, defensive end Trey Flowers, tackles Trent Brown and Malcom Brown, wideout Cordarrelle Patterson, and tight end Dwayne Allen, among others.