Triumph Books 2009
Review by C. Douglas Baker
There are many books now available detailing the history of the New England Patriots. Having read many of them I find that nobody has really come up with anything new to say. The typical “stories of” books essentially tell the same tales and I am not sure why the recent ones are even published because they have nothing new to say. And that is certainly the case here. There really isn’t anything new that hasn’t already been published elsewhere.
That said, this book, for the most part is fairly good. Most of it focuses on the team of the 2000’s, walking through the dynasty years and some of the pivotal moments of this decade. Not that it completely ignores the past, there are chapters talking about that as well, but it is more upbeat and positive than similar books that dwell on all the bad things that have gone on with the Patriots in its history.
The book briefly talks about all the bad things too, of course, like Darryl Stingley getting paralyzed in 1976, the Lisa Olson incident, Super Bowl XX, the horrible ownership of the 1990’s, and Spygate. I have to say, even though I’m sick of hearing about it personally, the author gives pretty short shrift to Spygate.
The author does a good job of talking about the resurgence of the Patriots under Bill Parcells, his most critical decision being the choice of Drew Bledsoe as the number one draft pick, who lead the franchise to winning records and a Super Bowl, over Rick Mirer, who was bust for the Seattle Seahawks. And it goes on to rightly praise the virtues of coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft.
There are also vignettes about some of the greatest Patriots players like Adam Vinatieri, Troy Brown, Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady, Steve Grogan, Tedy Bruschi, and John Hannah, to name a few.
The one area I disagree with the author is when he discusses the pivotal moments of the 2003 season which lead to the Patriots second Super Bowl win in three years. He identifies a tough, gutty win over the Tennessee Titans in week five as being the turning point in the season because the team showed a toughness and ability to win that it failed to show the previous season when it missed the playoffs (in that season Tennessee clobbered the Patriots physically in a dismal Monday Night Game).
To me one play defines the 2003 season. In week 13 after taking a commanding lead against the Indianapolis Colts at halftime, the Colts came back in the second half and had the ball first and goal from the one yard line with little time left on the clock. After three stops, on fourth and goal from the one, Willie McGinnest stones Edgerrin James on a run attempt to seal the win. Had McGinest not made that play at the end of the game, the Colts, not the Patriots, would have had home field advantage in the playoffs. And that, to me, was not only the most critical game of the season, but one of the most critical plays in Patriots’ history.
I can’t imagine a non-Patriots fan wanting to read this book, especially if you’ve read similar accounts or histories of the teams. For Patriots fans I would say, reading anything about the Patriots is enjoyable, but this book did not provide any new insights that haven’t been discussed elsewhere and I would not recommend it.