Ernie Adams Bill Belichick Patriots Friday Night Lights Credit: New England Patriots

Friday Night Lights was first published in 1990, with its 2004 film adaptation and popular television series helping make it one of the most famous sports books of all time.

But it wasn’t until this week that we learned that the book — and its ensuing spinoff projects — likely wouldn’t have been possible without a longtime member of the New England Patriots front office.

Appearing on Julian Edelman’s Games With Names, Ernie Adams was asked about his role in the creation of Buzz Bissinger’s 1990 book. And the former Patriots football research director confirmed that he played a significant part in helping his former high school classmate identify Permian High School as the subject for his book.

“Buzz Bissinger, who wrote the book, was a year behind Bill [Belichick] and me at Phillips Academy in Andover. So when Bill and I actually played together, the reporter for the school newspaper who covered it was Buzz Bissinger,” Adams, who retired in 2021, said. “So Friday Night Lights wasn’t really his intro to high school football. It was covering Bill and me.

“And he goes on to be a writer. Buzz calls me up. Buzz says, ‘I’m thinking about going out to Western Pennsylvania and writing a book about high school football and the team and the town. And I know Buzzy has never been west of Philadelphia in his life. And I say, ‘Buzzy, if you want to do this, get your a** out to West Texas where they take their football seriously. And that’s how Friday Night Lights came to be written about that Permian High School.”

Considering Friday Night Lights‘ place in pop culture, it’s somewhat surprising that Adams’ — and by extension, Belichick’s — connection to the original book has largely flown under the radar. Google “Bill Belichick Friday Night Lights” and you’ll mostly find stories about how the creators of the TV show used the six-time Super Bowl champion head coach as inspiration for its main character, Coach Eric Taylor.

Last month, The Athletic’s Andrew Marchand revealed that Belichick is set to pen a book of his own. Perhaps he can reach out to Bissinger for some writing tips or Adams — his former right-hand man — for advice on what topics he should tackle.

[Games With Names]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.