Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Longtime New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is retiring from the NFL after 36 seasons, the team announced Tuesday.
Scarnecchia, who was the league's longest-tenured coach with one team, spent 34 seasons with the Patriots. The 71-year-old coach is widely considered one of the NFL's top assistants and a vital part of the organization's Super Bowl success over the years.
"It was a privilege to coach with Dante for so long," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. "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."
Scarnecchia owns the most coaching seasons in Patriots history. The last NFL coach to spend at least 30 seasons with one team was Dick Hoak, who was employed for a league-record 35 seasons as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Dante Scarnecchia has been unbelievable in every way," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "As a coach, he was extraordinarily talented at teaching his players and bringing the most out of each of them. 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."
Scarnecchia initially retired for two seasons (2014-15) before returning in 2016. He also was an offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts from 1989-90.
The Patriots originally hired Scarnecchia in 1982 under coach Ron Meyer. Scarnecchia worked under head coaches Meyer, Raymond Berry, Dick MacPherson, Bill Parcells, Pete Carroll and Belichick in New England.