I believe if I've established any sort of a reputation over my career, it's that I am not an emotional guy. That I've got one, all-purpose demeanor, and it is one of masculine, steadfast, cool, calm, even-tempered stoicism. But as Jim Carrey says in "Me, Myself & Irene," just because I rock doesn't mean I'm made of stone.
This moment got to me. Bill Belichick's announcement Saturday that the 2021 draft would be Ernie Adams' last was a gut punch to the emotional solar plexus. And this speech he gave, where he ran down the accomplishments over a span of 45 years - 45! - in NFL war rooms, was the one-two combo punch that has me feeling all the feels. This is what every wedding toast is supposed to be. Heartfelt. Respectful. Honest. Brimming with brotherly love. I've sat through eulogies that didn't move me in the slightest. But this, I'm not ashamed to say, makes my eyes rain. It's the most moving hero's farewell since this one:
The only differences being that Ernie Adams is real, and billionaire philanthropist playboys who build magical suits that give them extraordinary powers are not. And also, that while Tony Stark was publicity-seeking genius while Adams was the very definition of The Quiet Hero. A Man in Full, who was perfectly content to work behind the scenes, appreciated only by those who worked directly with him. Someone who seemed more like a myth or maybe just a figment of Belichick's imagination than a real flesh and blood human being. That is, until he was interviewed in 2015's "3 Games to Glory" with the cryptic "Pink Stripes" on the white board behind him. Six years later, we still have no more information about what that means and why Adams felt it important enough to put it in writing for the world to see. But I am convinced that contained within those 11 letters is the Unified Field Theory of the universe. And if our finest minds are somehow able to crack it, all the problems of our existence will be solved.
The most mind-blowing part of Belichick's speech is the historical perspective of Adams' career. I mean, just the fact that he was the one responsible for David Givens (253rd overall pick, seasons of 510, 874 and 738 yards, a Patriots career average of 14.0 YPC, eight career playoff games, 7-1 record, seven postseason touchdowns, two rings) feels like ancient history. But to Adams, it was practically yesterday. He helped build the 1994 Browns into a playoff team (and the foundation of the 2000 Ravens Super Bowl champs), the two-time champion Giants, and even the late '70s Patriots. That team was an absolute wagon. Mike Haynes is an NFL Top 100 All Time player. Stanly Morgan still holds all the Pats receiving records and averaged almost 20 yards a reception for his career. They were poised for greatness until head coach Chuck Fairbanks walked out on his contract to go back to college just as they'd won the division for the first time in history.
That version of the Patriots is what made a young, impressionable lad from Weymouth, MA fall in love with this franchise. So in a roundabout way, I'm as indebted to Ernie Adams for my own life's path as we all are to him for helping to build this Dynasty. And now I'm crying a single, manly, Spartacus tear once again, just thinking about it. Here's hoping WR Tre Nixon out of Central Florida is worthy of being the historic final pick of this history building legend's career. If he turns out to be the next David Givens, then Adams will have given us one final parting gift. Godspeed. And, as always, Pink Stripes.