Lions head coach Matt Patricia remembers the exact moment he fell in love with coaching.
It was back in 1996 when he was a graduate assistant at his alma mater Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
"I remember that exact moment that I made that transition from not sitting up there as a former player coaching saying, 'I can still do that or I can still make that block or I wish I was still playing,' to watching someone that you taught do something," Patricia said last Wednesday while in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.
"That light bulb went on watching him execute it successfully in a game to help the team win the game, and see that joy that he got out of it. Way better than anything I did playing. It was just unbelievable, and that was the moment I was like, 'wow, this is great.'"
View photos of Matt Patricia. All images courtesy Associated Press.
Patricia would go on to coach at Amherst College, Syracuse University and then in the NFL, where he's been with New England since 2004. He's won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, two as their defensive coordinator.
Now Patricia takes the next step in his career by becoming head coach of the Lions.
While talking to Patricia during Patriots media availability on Wednesday, it's clear his passion to teach and coach the game of football remains as strong as ever.
"For me, I think it's the same," he said. "I think as a coach you are a teacher. You're trying to teach in all different avenues, whether it's the game plan, technique, life, whatever it may be.
"Teacher, mentor, whatever you want to call it from that standpoint, I think when you're in front of the group and you're presenting, you're very much at that point teaching. You kind of want to make sure you're hitting (all the seven senses of learning)."
The lessons have certainly registered with his players on defense in New England. His defenses have ranked in the top 10 in points allowed every year he's been the defensive coordinator. They were ranked No. 1 in 2016.
"Matt Patricia is my favorite," Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler said Wednesday. "One of my favorite coaches ever. He's tough on you, but he'll love you to death. He'll coach you hard. He's going to tell you how he feels and get whatever off his chest.
"He's just a great guy, man. He's a really good dude and he's good at what he does. He's going to get the best out of you."