Won for All: The Inside Story of the New England Patriots’ Improbable Run to the Super Bowl by Pepper Johnson with Bill Gutman
Review by C. Douglas Baker
Pepper Johnson’s book about the New England Patriots’ improbable run to championship glory in the 2001 NFL football season is a bit of a disappointment. Nevertheless, any Patriots fan will find the book interesting and essential to understanding the inside story of the 2001 New England Patriots.
This book does a good job of walking the reader through the entire 2001 season. Johnson divides the season into four game segments and provides great detail on the actual games, as well as the development and improvement of the team over the season. He provides even greater depth on the playoffs and Super Bowl, and the team’s preparation leading up to the big games.
Probably the key theme to the book is it clearly demonstrates the importance of teamwork and the performance of less high profile players on the success of the entire team. Johnson stresses, time and again, the importance of each man on the team doing their job and doing it well for this particular squad to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.
Johnson also does a nice job of giving the reader a glimpse into the day-to-day life of NFL coaches, from the hours they work, the tape they study, their interaction with the players, and how the entire coaching staff is important to any team’s overall success on the field.
The best thing about the book is allows Patriots fans to once again relive the 2001 season.
Unfortunately, the book has many drawbacks as well. First, there is very little attention paid to the most intriguing element of the 2001 season – the ultimate replacement of Drew Bledsoe with Tom Brady. Johnson gives very, very short shrift to this key controversy that could have torn the team apart. Maybe being a coach on the team he was afraid of going into the kind of detail that appears in journalists’ accounts of the relationship between Bledsoe, Brady, Belichick, and the team.
Second, there is a little too much “I, I, I” in the book. I didn’t want to hear about Johnson’s coaching philosophy or incidences that occurred specifically to him. I wanted to hear about the team. There’s a bit too much of Johnson in the book.
Third, the book does a poor job of building drama and excitement. It has a very bland and unadorned writing style. While the book is certainly very readable, it could have been better.
Finally, while not necessarily a shortcoming, there are very few X’s and O’s talking about plays, play calling, or in-depth game plan and football philosophies. It would have been nice to see more of this in the book as well.
Nevertheless, any Patriots fan, like me, will definitely enjoy the book and get a lot out of reading a coach’s account of the 2001 New England Patriots.