Longtime New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has retired from the NFL, the team announced on Tuesday. Christian Fauria of WEEI was first to report Scarnecchia walking away from the game. 

"I'm 72 years old, I feel like it's time," Scarnecchia told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. "It's been an unbelievable career, I would've never expected anything close to this. We've been blessed for a 1000 different reasons."

Scarnecchia is widely considered to be one of the best offensive line coaches the NFL has to offer. He first started coaching in the NFL in 1982, when he signed on as the Patriots special teams coach and tight end coach. Scarnecchia held that role through the 1988 season before leaving for the Indianapolis Colts offensive line coaching position, a post he held for two seasons. He returned to New England after that brief stint in Indy in 1991 and has been with the organization ever since. 

"It was a privilege to coach with Dante for so long," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, via the official team website. "I knew that long before his initial retirement and throughout a second act of continued excellence. Dante is among the very best assistant coaches ever."

In 1999, Scarnecchia ascended into his role as the Patriots offensive line coach and held that position for the rest of his coaching days. He did retire once before for two years (2014-15) but elected to come out of retirement to rejoin New England in 2016. During his tenure in Foxborough, he's been aboard for five of the Patriots six Super Bowl titles, including their most recent title last year. 

En route to that Super Bowl LIII championship, the Patriots offensive line was praised for its run blocking ability to help rookie Sony Michel compile 336 rushing yards and six touchdowns through three postseason games. Scarnecchia also helped a number of his offensive lineman earn record contracts. Left tackles Nate Solder and Trent Brown are two recent names that come to mind that played under Scarnecchia and earned record-setting contracts that following season when hitting free agency.

Brown, who inked a four year, $66 million deal (36.75 million guaranteed) with the Raiders last offseason after playing for Scarnecchia in New England in 2018, took to social media to congratulate his former coach on a legendary career. 

"Dante Scarnecchia has been unbelievable in every way. As a coach, he was extraordinarily talented at teaching his players and bringing the most out of each of them," said Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

"There truly is no way to sum up the incredible career he's had, the positive impact he's made on our franchise or how much he will be missed. We are forever grateful for Dante and wish him the absolutely best in his next chapter, along with his lovely wife Susan and his family. The New England Patriots are better because of Dante Scarnecchia, and he will always have a home with us."

According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, Scarnecchia plans to stay in the New England area in retirement. Given that proximity, he could still send some sage advice to whoever his successor is on the Patriots coaching staff going forward.