BOSTON (CBS) — Like no other sports league, the NFL is all about turnover. Keeping a job as a player or coach for a long period of time is an achievement in and of itself.
And in that sense, Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears is among the rarest of the rare, as he enters his 24th season as a Patriots coach and his 22nd consecutive year in Foxboro.
“It’s been a great journey,” Fears said Wednesday. “I look forward to adding one more year here.”
Though Fears has been the running backs coach since 2002, he served as the receivers coach from 1991-92 and from 1999-2001. Included in that group of receivers back then was Troy Brown, in the midst of his Patriots Hall of Fame career.
Brown made the lone Pro Bowl of his career when Fears was his position coach, and now the two are working together with the Patriots’ running backs.
It’s clearly a mutual appreciation society between the two men who are now colleagues on the coaching staff.
“The man is incredible,” Fears said of Brown. “If you ever really thought about all the things he’s done as a player, and then you add that the guy is an excellent communicator — and he’s been able to really, really blend in with the guys.”
Fears spoke of Brown’s natural coaching abilities in terms of his ability to connect with players.
“He’s firm when he needs to be firm. He’s also compassionate when he needs to be compassionate. He understands what they are going through, and he knows how to tell them. I think he’s going to be an awful, awful good coach. I really do,” Fears said. “Troy is a winner from the very bottom of his feet all the way to the very top of his head. The man knows how to perform, and he’s done nothing but win, and I think he knows how to project that to his guys.”
Fears continued: “I tell you what, it’s been a lot of fun being around him. It really is. I can see him being an awful, awful good coach at any position that he wants to take over. I just think running backs is good to learn. But he’s also a helluva receivers coach. I think he’s going to be a coordinator. I think he has a great future ahead of him. I really do.”
Fears said he had an idea that Brown might blossom into this type of coach, but such a transition is never a guarantee when it comes to players making that jump.
“What I’ve learned is that Troy is a tremendous person. I thought so when he was a player, but guys change some when they go from playing — you’re the coach, they’re the player, it’s a different relationship,” Fears said. “Now you’re buddy-buddy, coach-coach, and I’ll tell you what, I’ve been very blessed to be around the man. I think he’s a helluva person, a hard-working guy. He’s taking on this coaching deal like it’s the real deal. I’m really proud of him. I think he’s a special person.”