The New England Patriots have lost one of their most important coaches this offseason.
Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is retiring after spending more than 30 years with the Patriots in a variety of roles.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick heaped immense praise on Scarnecchia in a statement released by the team Tuesday.
"It was a privilege to coach with Dante for so long," Belichick said. "I knew that long before his initial retirement and throughout a second act of continued excellence. Dante is among the very best assistant coaches ever."
The Patriots have played in 58 playoff games in their history, and it's not a coincidence that Scarnecchia has coached in 49 of them. He has maximized the talent of so many of the offensive linemen the team brought in during his tenure, and this success certainly has been a factor in keeping quarterback Tom Brady healthy enough to play two decades and counting.
Many Patriots players past and present have paid tribute to Scarnecchia over the last 24 hours as his coaching career comes to a close, including Brady, who called the 71-year-old "the definition of the Patriot Way."