SportsPulse: Kyler Murray’s height has been the talk of the combine. Our NFL insiders debate how Murray stacks up and if he’s worth a top pick in April.
The Boston Globe first reported that Jack Easterby, whose official title was “character coach/team development,” has decided to pursue other opportunities in football after his contract with the Patriots expired at the conclusion of the season.
The newspaper reported that Easterby felt his time in New England “had run its course” but was also uncomfortable with the situation involving owner Robert Kraft, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of soliciting prostitutes. The charges arose as part of a broad investigation into human trafficking at 10 Florida day spas.
On the day police announced the charges against Kraft and more than two dozen other men, Easterby retweeted a post by former New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson that referred to human trafficking as “an entrenched evil” and “crimes against humanity.”
A Patriots spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment from USA TODAY Sports about Easterby’s departure.
Easterby, who also served as the Patriots’ team chaplain, arrived in New England in 2013 and was tasked with helping players and coaches navigate the Aaron Hernandez fallout. (Hernandez was released by the team after being arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd on June 26 of that year.)
Over the next six seasons, Easterby played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in helping the Patriots reach four Super Bowls, and win three of them. In the leadup to Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles, Patriots players raved about him and his role on the team.
“Jack has been huge in my life,” offensive lineman Nate Solder told USA TODAY Sports at the time. “He’s one of my close friends.”
Easterby also had a presence at practice, where he would lead drills in a pinch, and was an important resource for coach Bill Belichick, who sometimes sought his opinion.
“Character and the kind of people you hire is something that our country is in desperate need to get back to evaluating,” Easterby told USA TODAY Sports in 2018. “Unfortunately, sometimes it matters most when we count it the least. And when we evaluate it the least, it matters most. It’s tough, but we have seen a lot of businesses and industries fall because of a lack of character.
“One of the things we’ve seen come up in our culture lately — from the (Harvey) Weinstein case and so many others — we’ve seen that choices matter.”
Contributing: Lorenzo Reyes
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.