If it looked to you like talking about football on television was enough to scratch Jerod Mayo’s itch for the game, you weren’t alone.
I thought the same thing.
But the former Patriots linebacker, best known for his nine-year run in the NFL, and then as a weekly guest and subsequent in-studio host on Quick Slants, is pulling the ripcord and going back to the game. Mayo has agreed to become the Patriots linebackers coach.
The departures of Brian Flores, Josh Boyer and Brendan Daly put the Patriots defensive coaching staff in transition mode. The addition of Greg Schiano as defensive coordinator was one move. Mayo is another.
Mayo retired in February 2016 after three straight seasons in which he ended up on season-ending IR (torn pec, torn patella, shoulder mayhem). With his reputation as a leader and as one of the smartest players Bill Belichick coached, immediate speculation was that he’d go right into coaching.
But while he was playing, Mayo was also building experience in the business world and he transitioned from the field into a job with Optum.
At the time, Mayo said, "I love the game of football. I'm not going to rule [coaching] out, but right now I just need a little break.”
Now he’s back. Mayo figures to be in position to have a big impact on second-year linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley who was outstanding through training camp and into the early regular season before a torn biceps landed Bentley on IR. Mayo’s command of the on-field responsibilities in the Patriots defense -- not just at linebacker, but in the front-seven in particular -- will presumably help ease the loss of Daly and Flores.
Mayo’s relentlessly upbeat personality also figures to make an impact on the Patriots who said goodbye this offseason to “character coach” Jack Easterby.
Belichick’s ode to Mayo at the 2016 owners meetings are worth revisiting.
"I'll start out this morning, first of all, to talk about Jerod Mayo," Belichick said. "There have been very few players in my career that I've had the opportunity to coach that I'd say had more of an impact on a team than Jerod has from day one, which is unusual."
"From the first day he walked in the facility, which was his pre-draft visit, after we drafted him in 2008, he's been a pleasure to coach, a great addition to our team, both on and off the field," Belichick continued. "I'm sure I learned a lot more from him than he did from me. Jerod, (Mayo’s wife, Chantel) and their family brought a special glow to our team, to our organization. Although Jerod will always be part of the team and is always welcome, he'll be missed on a daily basis, the attitude, work ethic and love of football that he brought was special. He was very special.”
The expectation is that this is going to curtail Mayo’s Quick Slants availability. We’ll miss him too.
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