Dante Scarnecchia, a member of the Patriots coaching staff for 30 years and the only person to be associated with each of the franchise's seven Super Bowl participants, announced his retirement on Wednesday afternoon. He will be replaced as offensive-line coach by Dave DeGuglielmo, a Lexington native who is a 22-year coaching veteran and was on the staff of the New York Giants team that upset the Patriots in the 2007 Super Bowl.
Coach Bill Belichick, speaking on WEEI Radio, said Scarnecchia, 65, stayed on with the Pats longer than he'd anticipated, and that a transition was already under way this year.
After a 13-year career as an assistant at five different colleges, Scarnecchia joined the Pats as a member of Ron Meyer's staff as tight ends/special teams coach when Meyer took over as head coach in 1982. He stayed on when Raymond Berry replaced Meyer as head coach in the middle of the '84 season, and was on the staff when the Pats earned their first Super Bowl berth in 1985. He remained in New England through the end of the 1988 season, then rejoined Meyer -- by now the head coach of the Colts -- in Indianapolis as offensive-line coach in 1989 and '90. He came back to the Pats in 1991, again as tight ends/special teams coach, when Dick MacPherson was named head coach, and actually served as interim head coach when MacPherson missed several games due to illness in 1992.
Bill Parcells cleared out MacPherson's staff when he was hired in 1993 except for Scarnecchia, whom he kept as a special assistant. Scarnecchia has been on the staff ever since -- through the regimes of Parcells (1993-96), Pete Carroll (1997-99) and Belichick (2000-present) -- in several capacities, but he was named offensive-line coach in 1999 and has held that position ever since. In addition, he has served as assistant head coach since Belichick took over in 2000.
“Dante Scarnecchia has been the only coaching constant since I purchased the team in 1994,” said Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “Not coincidentally, he retires as the only coach to have been a part of all seven Super Bowl teams in Patriots franchise history. I want to thank Dante for his leadership, professionalism and always putting the team first. For as long as I have known him, he was always the first to arrive in the morning and among the last to leave. He didn’t demand respect from his players. He earned it. I loved watching Dante lead by example, especially when he would run stride for stride with his players during their conditioning runs. He was a coach who always stressed technique and fundamentals and helped players reach their full potential. At training camp, his colorful, constructive, coaching critiques made him a fan favorite. His presence on the Patriots sidelines will be missed by our coaches, players and fans alike.”
“Dante Scarnecchia is a Patriot and NFL legend who defied the phrase ‘not for long,’” said Belichick in a statement. “In an industry of constant change, Dante remained a fixture here for the simple reason that he helped every player reach his highest potential, regardless of who he was, how he was acquired or how much raw talent he had. In whatever category a coach can be assessed - evaluator, teacher, motivator, problem solver, disciplinarian, team player, winner – Dante is as good as it gets. As many games as he helped us win and as much as we would like to work with Dante forever, we are blessed with the opportunity to have been with him as long as we were.”
DeGuglielmo has spent nine seasons in the NFL as an assistant: for the Jets (2012), Dolphins (2009-11) and Giants (2004-08). He was a guard and center at Boston University from 1987 to '90.
Scarnecchia is the second member of the 2013 Patriots coaching staff to depart the team this week: Linebackers coach Pepper Johnson announced on Tuesday that he was leaving after after 13 seasons. No reason was given for the move, though Johnson had nothing but good things to say about the Pats in his farewell statement and, similarly, Belichick had nothing but good things to say about him.