Matt Patricia Didn’t Just Start A New 9-5 Monday To Friday Yesterday.
In almost any vocation it is true that we spend more time with our close coworkers than our own blood relatives. There are few for whom that is truer than an NFL coach. By now everyone is familiar with terms like “work-wife/husband.” Anyone who has spent any time in the workforce has a few that they remember fondly, and those that they do not. We have those coworkers, bosses, and subordinates that we’ve been alongside through thousands of hours filled with stress, joy, pain and everything in between. If you spend long enough in one workplace, they become your second family. Matt Patricia spent the last 14 years as part of the royal family of football.
During that time the New England Patriots organization won 13 AFC Division Championships. They won ten or more games in every one of those seasons. Patricia started as a young prospect coach. There are several of them on each team. They have titles like “quality control coach” or “assistant position coach.” They edit and cut together video footage for meetings. Also among their glamorous duties are things like making sure the coffee pot gets turned on before the head coach gets there.
They get paid next to nothing and sleep in their communal offices. Each of them is trying desperately to grasp something that will be the key to moving up. They work, then eat, then work some more, then sleep, and then do that again every day. Most coaches wash out of this terrible job at least once. Matt Patricia joined a work-family coming off two of the last three Superbowl championships. His work-family required perfection from day one. He never washed out.
Patricia rose within the Patriots family steadily. He moved from “offensive assistant” to “assistant offensive line coach,” to “linebackers coach,” to “safeties coach” from 2004 to 2011. In 2012 he rose to the position he held through two Superbowl victories: defensive coordinator. He had already been calling the plays for two seasons. 2012 was when he started took the job over completely. Then he encountered the dilemma of every prince. For them to become king, the old king abdicate or die. Bill Belichick is not going anywhere. The Patriots once-and-future king will dwell in that castle until the day Tom Brady retires if not longer.
Rumor has it that Bob Quinn has had his head coach chosen for two years. It is believed by many that Matt Patricia was unwilling to leave New England in each of the last two years. That could be the reason that Jim Caldwell hung on for the last two seasons. It took two years for the Lions new head coach to decide he was ready to step out of his mentor’s shadow. You can feel the admiration in Patricia’s words from his first statement as Lions head coach.
Patricia said of Belichick: “He’s been a remarkable mentor to me, not only as a football coach but also as a man and as a friend. I have learned immensely from his detailed leadership approach to the game, which has certainly shaped me into the football coach that I am today. Quite simply, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with, who I believe, is the greatest coach in NFL history.” Can we blame him for having some reluctance to leave?
Matt Patricia’s New Family
Martha Firestone-Ford has welcomed Detroit’s newest head coach into the fold with an appropriate refrain. “On behalf of me and my family, I would like to congratulate and welcome Matt Patricia to the Detroit Lions as our new head coach. We are very excited to have Matt, his wife Raina, and their children, Dominic, Dante, and Giamina join the Lions Family.” She knows that what she asks of Patricia is that he spend his time winning football games, rather than with his children and wife. She is aware of the sacrifice that she, and all of Detroit, are asking from this man.
Patricia has embraced that sacrifice: “I will commit every ounce of my energy to this football team, starting today. My family is excited to become part of this wonderful city that displays so much passion for their teams.”
All of us that have left jobs we liked for better growth opportunities know what Patricia means when he says: “I can’t express enough appreciation to the entire New England Patriots franchise, particularly Robert and Jonathan Kraft and their entire family.” Nobody sticks with their old job in the face of a new opportunity for two years if the owners are not top notch.
There were reports that Patricia preferred other jobs. There were reports that he was offered other jobs. In the end, Patricia chose the Detroit Lions head coaching position. He chose this new family over the others that sought to adopt him. Yesterday he snapped his branch off the Patriots tree and packed it to Detroit. He grafted his branch to the same tree that everyone reading this has for some reason or another chosen as their tree too.
Mat Patricia’s closing statement was: “now I turn all of my attention to the Lions. I look forward to the next chapter of my career in Detroit.” We’re all with you coach. Hopefully that this chapter of your family history is as much of a page-turner as the last one.