MIAMI -- No matter which player you ask, regardless of position, the respect with which Patriots players speak about Dante Scarnecchia is ubiquitous.
In the wake of the news that the legendary assistant coach will retire, one player made it clear: There will never be another "Scar."
"It's part of this business," the player said. "Coaches change. Players change every year. It's just something you have to deal with. It is what it is. There'll never be another Dante Scarnecchia. The next coach doesn't need to be Dante Scarnecchia, they need to be themselves."
The Patriots have a couple of in-house candidates to fill Scarnecchia's offensive line coach shoes in coaching assistant's Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo. Popovich has assisted Scarnecchia in previous seasons, but it was Bricillo who took on those duties in 2019. Bricillo joined the team prior to the start of last season.
Bricillo spent the previous nine seasons coaching offensive linemen at Youngstown State. Popovich has been with the Patriots for four seasons and served as assistant running backs coach in 2019.
No matter who is the "next man up," as goes one of the team's mottoes, Scarnecchia has been irreplaceable for the Patriots.
"I think he's done so much for the game he deserves some credit," the Patriots player said. "Number one, I think he was a great coach. His record, his career, his history, the success of the teams, lines, players under his [guidance] speak for himself. More importantly, I think he cared about each one of his players on a personal level. That made a player want to buy in.
"Two, I think he was just a great ambassador of the game. I think being able to talk to him and hear him and get to play for him, he loves the game more than anything and is an ambassador."
Scarnecchia has long been a hard-driving coach on the practice field. He's meticulous about the way in which his players carry the blocking pads in drills. After practices, he wanted his players to place their helmets in a perfectly straight line on the turf during cool-down stretching periods.
There were rules to adhere to, standards to uphold. If they weren't, Scarnecchia wasn't above raising his voice to a decibel level that could be heard by most training camp attendees at open summer practices.
Players tried to do things Scarnecchia's way. They tried to live The Gospel of Scar. They tried because they valued their jobs. But they also tried because they wanted to make Scarnecchia happy. He showed them that he cared for them, and they tried to pay him back with their effort.
"I think people forget at the end of the day, we're people," the Patriots player said. "There's a personal aspect to this game. You're not just collecting a paycheck every week. There's a personal aspect to it, there's more to it why we all play.
"We all believed in him. We believed what he was telling us was for our benefit. He wanted the team to succeed, but he [wanted his players to succeed] when someone's putting that much time and effort into it."
Scarnecchia's compiled what could be considered a Hall of Fame resume over his five decades of coaching. He won five Super Bowls in New England. He helped Nate Solder and Trent Brown pull in record contracts as free agents. He helped tutor Stephen Neal, turning him from a college wrestler into a Super Bowl champion.
"You can't take away from what the athletes went out there and did at the end of the day, under his teaching and his leadership," the Patriots player said. "Players were able to develop themselves and make a career for themselves. A lot of that credit does go to [Scarnecchia]. Getting them to buy in and believe not only in him but in themselves, teaching them the right way of doing things."