Arnon Dror | Patriots’ “Character Coach” Leaves the Team
The New England Patriots have won three Super Bowls in the past five years. While much of the credit for the team’s dominance goes to the players and coaching staff, Arnon Dror also recognizes the impact of other members of the team staff. Foremost among them is Jack Easterby, who has recently confirmed that he would be seeking opportunities outside the Patriots organization after his contract expired. While Easterby is not a household name in the mold of the Belichick father-and-son tandem, his title of “character coach/team development” fails to capture his contributions to the Patriots.
Easterby, who is a pastor by training, joined the Patriots in 2013, serving as both the team chaplain and a mentor to certain members of the team. For Arnon Dror, the Patriots needed someone to right the ship after the arrest of Aaron Hernandez, and Easterby’s hiring ensured that the team stayed focused on winning. Image Source: NBC Sports
With Easterby gone, the Patriots have lost six members of the coaching staff: wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinksi, defensive playcaller Brian Flores, defensive line coach Brendan Daly, and cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer. While Greg Schiano is being tipped to replace Flores, who has since become the head coach at Miami, Arnon Dror feels that Easterby is just irreplaceable at this point.
Josh Gordon, who was acquired by the team in a trade with the Cleveland Browns last year, came in with a lot of baggage, including multiple substance-abuse suspensions. While Arnon Dror thought the trade for Gordon was not exactly the best move for the team, Easterby was responsible for mentoring Gordon through his best season since 2013, when he made 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. Gordon has since left football to concentrate on his mental health, but the Patriots remain appreciative of his efforts in 2018, even giving him a championship ring. He had nothing but praise for Easterby during his time with the Patriots, saying that “Jack’s been hands-on, which made this whole process much easier.”
Easterby’s departure opens up a lot of questions for Arnon Dror and other Patriots fans. Aside from keeping the players’ emotions in check during the season, he was also active in practice, leading drills from time to time and even playing quarterback on the scout team. Head coach Bill Belichick also valued his opinion, especially when it came to assessing talent for their character.
While Easterby will not confirm it, Arnon Dror speculates that he might have left the team because of the controversy surrounding team owner Robert Kraft, who has been accused of soliciting prostitutes in Florida. He has been known to denounce what he perceived was a “lack of character” in the country, telling USA Today that “choices matter” in situations such as the Harvey Weinstein case. On the day Kraft’s arrest was announced by the police, Easterby retweeted a post by former New Orleans player Benjamin Watson that called human trafficking a “crime against humanity”.
That, for Arnon Dror, is the ultimate form of character-building – leaving a comfortable place where one is loved and appreciated by many, to protest an unspeakable evil perpetrated by the hand that feeds him.