The New England Patriots will have to get through the Robert Kraft scandal without the help of their longtime character coach.
Jack Easterby won’t be back for a seventh season as the team’s character coach and chaplain, the Boston Globe reported Thursday. The news came the same day that Kraft, the team’s owner, pleaded not guilty to two counts of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution in a Florida case.
According to the Globe, the two developments are not unrelated: “Easterby felt his time with the team had run its course, and the Kraft situation does not sit well with him, according to league sources.”
Easterby is leaving to “pursue other opportunities in football,” the Globe said. His contract with the Patriots expired after last season, which ended with a Super Bowl victory over the Rams.
Kraft and dozens of other men have been charged as part of a crackdown on human trafficking and prostitution in Florida. Last week, after the news broke about the allegations against Kraft, Easterby retweeted a statement by recently retired New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson about the evils of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Easterby was the team chaplain for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012, when linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself at the team’s practice facility after murdering his girlfriend.
Soon after, according to the Patriots’ website, coach Bill Belichick recruited Easterby to help his team navigate its way through the Aaron Hernandez situation. Hernandez, a former Patriots tight end, received a life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd and later hanged himself in a prison cell.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to walk the road with [the Patriots], to see people grow, to see families grow, to see the things that really matter in life — from marriages, to children being born, in addition to the on-field success — it’s just been a privilege for me,” Easterby said in a feature story that ran on the team site in November. “I’m humbled to be where I’m at.”