Patriots

Watch: Damien Harris, Ivan Fears share emotional moment during Patriots’ loss

Longtime Patriots running back coach Ivan Fears stoked rumors about his possible retirement with his embrace of Damien Harris on Saturday.

Damien Harris Patriots
Damien Harris runs the ball against the Buffalo Bills during the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Saturday’s season-ending loss to the Buffalo Bills could mark the ending of several long-time Patriots’ careers, including Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, and even Dont’a Hightower.

But it also might be the last game running backs coach Ivan Fears coaches for New England.

Fears, who has spent the last 25 years with the Patriots and even predates Bill Belichick, hinted at retirement during minicamp last summer despite still having a love of football.

The 67-year-old coach wouldn’t commit one way or another after his team lost in blowout fashion to the Bills on wild-card weekend. But one interaction with running back Damien Harris made it feel as if the end might indeed be approaching.

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After embracing Harris, whom Fears has helped mold into one of the NFL’ s top running backs over three seasons, the coach told his star back, “You’re going to have a great career.”

“You’re a different man than you were when you walked in here, son!” Fears added, to which Harris replied, “All because of you.”

Between overseeing Harris’s development into a workhorse and Rhamondre Stevenson’s ascension as a rookie, Fears will have put together quite a final season if this is the end of the line. The Patriots also finished the season second in the NFL in rushing touchdowns and eighth in rushing yards.

But that might be nothing compared to the respect he’s built with his players, including the hard-running Harris, over the last 25 years in New England.

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