"You could tell he loves his job," Chiefs safety Eric Berry said. "Just talking to him, you see how much he loves the game. He has passion for it. We just had a meeting for two hours, and he was excited about the game plan the whole two hours, so that gets us fired up."
Sutton started his career a graduate assistant under Bo Schembechler at Michigan, and spent his first three decades in coaching in the college ranks. He bounced through Syracuse, Illinois and North Carolina State, among other places, before finally landing at Army.
That was his first and only head coaching job, and it was mostly a success. He went 10-2 in 1996 and had the Black Knights in the Top 25. To put that into context, the program has had just one winning record — a 7-6 finish in 2010 — since that season.
"There's no question that he's a brilliant man," said Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, who was an assistant under Sutton at West Point. "So many people see things from one angle, but Bob always had that special quality to see things from so many different angles."
Sutton transitioned to the NFL in 2000 as the linebacker coach of the Jets, and rose through the ranks to become defensive coordinator on Eric Mangini's staff. When Mangini was fired and Rex Ryan took over, Ryan persuaded Sutton to stay on as a defensive assistant.
"It was one of those things where he said, 'OK, I'll give it a shot and stay,'" Ryan said. "He was the assistant head coach and it was awesome. I really leaned on him."
His players embraced him, too, and were devastated to see him go.
"I still text with him every week," Jets linebacker Calvin Pace said. "For the linebackers, he was almost like a father figure to us. We'd sit with him and talk with him. A lot of times, it wasn't even about football. We were just talking. He's just a really, really good guy."