BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - He's the man in charge of the Patriots' backfield and has shared a sideline with head coach Bill Belichick since Belichick took over in New England in 2000.
Tom Brady? Nope. It's Ivan Fears.
Fears, a 41-year coaching veteran who's in his 21st season as a Patriots assistant coach, was born in Portsmouth, raised in Suffolk and groomed at the College of William and Mary - where he played and coached under head coach Jimmye Laycock. Sunday, the Patriots running backs coach will take part in his eighth Super Bowl.
"It's been really, really special," Fears told News 3 Wednesday. "To get a chance to win like this and work with some of the guys I've had the opportunity to work with - including the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time), Tom Brady, it's special."
Fears, who attended John Yates High School, returned to the Patriots in 1999 after starting his NFL coaching career with New England in 1991. Head coach Bill Belichick retained Fears after Pete Carroll was fired following the '99 season.
"My kids love it," Fears added. "We've had a great, great relationship with the guys. We've enjoyed every moment, every up and down we've had, we've been fortunate." After going 8-and-8 during the 1999 season, Fears has enjoyed 14 division titles and five Super Bowl titles in the Belichick era.
"You go through a few Sundays when you lose as many games as we were losing, holy mackerel - it's fun to be on the other side of that ledger now."
Fears says all of his sisters and brothers still call Hampton Roads home. When asked what message he would send to youngsters back home who hope to one day make it to the NFL as a player or coach, Fears said simply, "All dreams are possible. Never give up on your dream, because all dreams are possible."