With the first day that training camp is open to the public still three weeks away, and kickoff to the first game of the regular season for the Patriots a distant 9½ weeks ahead of us, I thought this would be a good time to consider a tradition summer vacation activity – book reading – with a definite Pats fans bent.
Some of these may of course be very familiar – but if you’re like me, it may have been a while since you read some of them, and time to do so once again. In some other cases there may be a new book that you haven’t gotten around to reading yet like Michael Holley’s War Room, or perhaps one that you missed when it first came out like Christopher Price’s The Blueprint. In no particular order, here is a suggested reading list for fans of the New England Patriots:
War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team (Michael Holley; 2011; 256 pages)
Football games aren’t won on Sundays in the fall. They’re won on draft day in the spring— in the war room.
In this landmark book, New York Times bestselling author Michael Holley takes readers behind the scenes of three contending National Football League teams and into the brilliant minds of Bill Belichick and his two former protégés Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli.
Holley masterfully shows how a single idea conceived by Belichick in 1991—how to build the perfect team—triggered a journey filled with miraculous finishes, heartbreaking losses, broken relationships, and Super Bowl championships. Readers are given unprecedented access—from the draft room to the locker room to the sidelines—and insights into why Belichick is considered to be the NFL’s best coach and premier strategist.
Patriot Reign: Bill Belichick, the Coaches, and the Players Who Built a Champion (2004; Michael Holley; 240 pages)
When Bill Belichick arrived in New England, the Patriots were a laughingstock, an organization with a losing record and a roster of overpaid, underperforming players. So how did a head coach with a questionable record transform this team, garner three Lombardi trophies in four years, and — with the Pats’ 2005 Super Bowl win over the Philadelphia Eagles — cement the team’s place as an NFL dynasty?
With unprecedented access granted by Belichick and his staff, author Michael Holley spent two years with the coach, his team, and his brain trust. Holley provides insights into how Belichick and his coaching cabinet prepare for opponents, evaluate talent, run the draft, and design their offensive and defensive schemes. Patriot Reign captures Belichick at his most candid, and what emerges is a portrait of a complicated man who is cerebral, yes, but also tough, demanding, stubborn, funny, profane, and a master strategist.
Frank, uncompromising, and stunning, Patriot Reign is required reading for football fans who want to understand what makes a champion tick.
The Education of a Coach (David Halberstam; 2005; 277 pages)
Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam’s bestseller takes you inside the football genius of Bill Belichick for an insightful profile in leadership.
Bill Belichick’s thirty-one years in the NFL have been marked by amazing success–most recently with the New England Patriots. In this groundbreaking book, David Halberstam explores the nuances of both the game and the man behind it. He uncovers what makes Bill Belichick tick both on and off the field.
The Blueprint: How the New England Patriots Beat the System to Create the Last Great NFL Superpower (Christopher Price; 2007; 288 pages)
But in the first four months of 2000, everything changed. The hiring of head coach Bill Belichick and Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli and the drafting of quarterback Tom Brady turned the fortunes of the franchise around. And their nontraditional approach to acquiring personnel—remembering that it’s not about collecting talent, it’s about assembling a team—quickly led to three Super Bowl titles in four seasons. It’s a feat that, in the salary cap era, with free agency, planned parity and balanced scheduling, is in many ways even more impressive than anything achieved by the past dynasties of Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and San Francisco.
Along the way, Christopher Price has had a front-row seat for football history, chronicling the rise to power of the NFL’s unlikeliest superpower. Price takes the reader inside the franchise to give him a dynamic portrait of a mighty organization at the height of its power. Readers are immersed in the locker room during the strange and tumultuous days of 2001 and 2003, when major personnel moves involving a pair of the most popular players in franchise history—Drew Bledsoe and Lawyer Milloy—threatened to rock their championship foundation to the core. Readers get an up-close look at the team that dominated the league on the way to a record-setting winning streak in 2004. And Price analyzes what went wrong when they fell short in 2005 and 2006, and how they plan to return to Super Bowl form in 2007.
The Blueprint will explore how the Patriots went from the dregs to a dynasty, becoming the gold standard for professional sports franchises everywhere. It will prompt sports fans (and those who study organizations) to acknowledge what many football insiders have believed for a long time: when it comes to building a successful system, the Patriots have the Blueprint.
New England Patriots: The Complete Illustrated History (Christopher Price; 2010; 192 pages)
Released in conjunction with the franchise’s 50th anniversary, this fully illustrated history of the New England Patriots celebrates the team from its origins in 1960 through its dynastic success in the new millennium. The book highlights the great players, coaches, teams, and moments that have made the Patriots one of the most successful franchises in NFL history. With chapters organized by era and articles profiling the top players and characters, New England Patriots: The Complete Illustrated History explores every aspect of Patriots history and traditions. Includes stats and some 200 photos.
Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything (Charles Pierce; 2007; 288 pages)
When Tom Brady entered the 2005 NFL season as lead quarterback for the New England Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions, he was hailed as the best to ever play the position. And with good reason: he was the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl; the only quarterback in NFL history to win three Super Bowls before turning twenty-eight; the fourth player in history to win multiple Super Bowl MVP awards. He started the season with a 57-14 record, the best of any NFL quarterback since 1966.
Award-winning sports journalist Charles P. Pierce’s Moving the Chains explains how Brady reached the top of his profession and how he stays there. It is a study in highly honed skills, discipline, and making the most of good fortune, and is shot through with ironies–a sixth-round draft pick turned superstar leading a football dynasty that was once so bedraggled it had to play a home game in Birmingham, Alabama, because no stadium around Boston would have it. It is also about an ordinary man and an ordinary team becoming extraordinary. Pierce interviewed Brady’s friends, family, coaches, and teammates. He interviewed Brady (notably for Sports Illustrated’s 2005 Sportsman of the Year cover article). And then he got the one thing he needed to truly take Brady’s measure: 2005 turned out to be the toughest Patriots season in five years.
Then Belichick Said to Brady: The Best New England Patriots Stories Ever Told (Jim Donaldson; 2009; 192 pages)
Written for every sports fan who follows the Patriots, this account goes behind the scenes to peek into the private world of the players, coaches, and decision makers–all while eavesdropping on their personal conversations. From the New England locker room to the sidelines and inside the huddle, the book includes comments about Raymond Berry, Gino Cappelletti, John Hannah, and Bill Parcels, among others, allowing readers to relive the highlights and the celebrations.
Tales from the New England Patriots Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Stories of the Team’s First 40 Years (Michael Felger; 2011; 173 pages)
The best Pats stories, with an epilogue by their most successful coach.
This revealing look at the first forty years of the New England Patriots captures the stories of passion, power, and struggles of one of the most remarkable franchises in sports. True Pats fans know that while today the team’s owner, coach, and stadium all rank among the best in the NFL, the early years were a much harder road. For decades the Patriots was a team known for having comically inept management and ownership, as well as the worst stadium in the NFL.
In Tales from the New England Patriots Sideline, former players share the hilarious and shocking tales of the team’s early tumultuous years. Readers will walk through the tragedies and triumphs of Patriots history. As any true fan knows, to understand how far your team has come, you’ve got to know where they’ve been. Without a doubt, Tales from the New England Patriots Sideline is a must-read for any New England fan. Includes 25 black-and-white photographs.
Never Give Up: My Stroke, My Recovery, and My Return to the NFL (Tedy Bruschi with Michael Holley; 2008; 288 pages)
“Tedy gives you something to believe in. Whether we’re winning or losing, he holds his head high, and he knows himself and handles himself so well, others can’t help but follow him. The way he practices and plays forces you to become a better teammate; the way he demands hustle and toughness forces you to become a better leader; and the way he carries himself inspires you to become a better person. This made his return to playing on October 30 against Buffalo all the more electrifying. The stadium was louder that night than the nights we had raised our Super Bowl banners. Our captain, our leader, our inspiration was back on the field doing what he loved to do. Tedy had spent months rehabbing, had countless doctor visits, and had undergone hundreds of tests trying to play again. Just eight months after our victory in Super Bowl XXXIX, here we were celebrating a much bigger victory on our home field. Sure it was great to win the game, but that night we were celebrating Tedy’s return as he showed us teammates, fans, family, and friends what it takes to become victorious in life.
“You might be coming to this book as a fan of Tedy’s football skills and, don’t get me wrong, gaining the insights of one of the best defenders in Patriots history is worth the price of admission, but that’s just part of the story. There are a lot of reasons to look up to him, and I promise you will finish this book with an admiration for him on a much deeper level.”
–Tom Brady (from the Foreword)
The definitive account of the 2001-2004 New England Patriots. Analyzes the many “success factors” underlying the team’s two Super Bowl victories in three seasons. Entertains with humorous, insightful quotations from players, coaches, executives, and owners while helping fans vicariously experience life as a New England Patriot. “Management Secrets” is essential reading for any serious fan of Bill Belichick’s Patriots and anyone seeking to build a great organization. (Vol. 1 covers the team’s achievements, personnel, teamwork, motivation, and competition. Vol. 2 to be published February 2005.) James Lavin earned his economics Ph.D. at Stanford, where he analyzed “high performance work organizations” (like the Patriots). He also holds degrees in: political science (Harvard, magna cum laude), economics (London School of Economics), and East Asian studies (Stanford). James grew up in Wayland, MA cheering for many lousy Patriots teams.
Management Secrets of the New England Patriots Volume 2 (James Lavin; 2005; 460 pages)
Explains how Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots have won three Super Bowls in four seasons. Quotations from Patriots players, coaches, owners and executives describe the team’s success factors. Volume 2 (of this projected trilogy) covers four core topics essential to building any great organization: Training, Planning, Collaborating and Motivating. Fun and informative for football fans and business people.
Total Patriots: The Definitive Encyclopedia of the World-Class Franchise (Bob Hyldburg; 2009; 800 pages)
The New England Patriots first Super Bowl championship in 2001, followed by dramatic back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 2003 and 2004, marked the culmination of more than 40 years of spirited competition on the gridiron and the arrival of a football dynasty. Along the way, the Patriots have endured their fair share of trials and tribulations and have forged a proud franchise that featured the talents of legends including Babe Parilli, Nick Buoniconti, Jim Nance, Jim Plunkett, John Hannah, Steve Grogan, Sam Cunningham, Russ Francis, Steve Nelson, Stanley Morgan, Andre Tippett, Irving Fryar, Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Doug Flutie, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri, Randy Moss, and many others.
Total Patriots: The Definitive Encyclopedia of the World-Class Franchise delves into that rich history with an unparalleled enthusiasm for the statistics and stories that comprise one of the most respected franchises in professional sports. Author Bob Hyldburg s meticulous research uncovered a wealth of never-before published data. From the team s early days in the AFL – when the Boston Patriots were led by Butch Songin, Gino Cappelletti, and Babe Parilli to its dynasty days under the leadership of Tom Brady, Troy Brown, and Tedy Bruschi, this book is the ultimate resource for Patriots fans, football historians, and trivia buffs alike.
Game Changers: The Greatest Plays in New England Patriots History (Sean Glennon; 2010; 160 pages)
The New England Patriots are the NFL s undisputed team of the last decade, the first professional football dynasty of the 21st century. But as longtime fans know all too well, the road to greatness has been anything but smooth. From their earliest seasons as one of the original American Football League franchises until the arrival of the Bill Belichick Tom Brady era, the Patriots offered plenty of thrills but always found a way to break fans hearts. Their recent glory years have been well earned.
Game Changers: The Greatest Plays in New England Patriots History is about the big moments that have separated triumph and tragedy, the times when one play one breakaway run, one lucky grab, one missed tackle altered the course of a game, a season, even an entire era in franchise history. Through expertly crafted narratives that revisit key plays and huge games, action-packed photography, and all-new commentary from players, coaches, and expert observers, Game Changers brings to life the on-field events that mattered most during the first 50 seasons of Patriots football.
Revisit the glory of three Super Bowl championships. Flash back to the high points of the 1985 Patriots run through the AFC playoffs to Super Bowl XX. Take a new look at the phenomenal 1976, 1978, and 2007 squads and the frustrating ends to their seasons. Recover lost moments, like the 1960 punt-return touchdown that cost the favored Boston Patriots a victory in the upstart AFL’s inaugural game and the 1964 interception that denied the Patriots an almost certain AFL championship.
Learn the secret truth behind Troy Brown s momentum-stealing punt-return touchdown in the 2001 AFC Championship Game. Get the inside scoop on why Gino Cappelletti missed a two-point conversion pass from Babe Parilli in the final game of 1964. Get a horse’s-mouth account of how Hall of Fame cornerback Mike Haynes reclaimed his Patriots roots. And discover how Kevin Faulk feels about being compared with Troy Brown.
Whether you have been around for the team’s full 50 years or only recently learned to love Patriots football, Game Changers offers a fun, exciting, and fascinating read.
This Pats Year: A Trek Through a Season as a Football Fan (Sean Glennon; 2004; 224 pages)
We are all fans. Every one of us has something or someone – a sports team, a rock band, a movie star – we care about more deeply than we probably should. And we all engage in some fan behavior, whether it’s as simple as keeping up with that rock band’s career through the media, or as involved as following our favorite team to away games, dressing in team gear and hitching our own well being to the team’s fortunes on the field. But why? What does being a fan mean to us? What does it do for us? This Pats Year answers those questions by taking a look at fans in action. The author, a native New Englander and lifelong football fan, spent game days with fans of the New England Patriots during the team’s 2002 post-championship season. He recalls four months of Sundays in self-contained narratives that come together to create a vivid picture of not just the Patriots faithful but of fans everywhere. The game-day essays present Patriots fans at their best and their worst, showing them as quixotic and mercurial, proud and steadfast, nervous and glum, jovial and celebratory. And the epilogue to this passionate book is the author’s exploration of how the Patriots’ 2003 season-one that made them Super Bowl contenders-caught its fans by surprise, putting them through a series of wildly varying emotions that seemed to bring them full circle from 2001. This Pats Year offers a fun and engaging look at what it is to be a fan-and does so in a manner that does not require a fan’s involvement with the Patriots, football, or sports in general.
This is it: the unbelievable true story of how a team that barely qualified to be part of the original AFL became the first NFL dynasty of the 21st century. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: New England Patriots presents a fast-paced, entertaining look at 48 years of Patriots history. There are heroes and villains, the expert and the inept, moments of glory and moments of agony, triumphs, tragedies, and terrible trip-ups. The details you always wanted to know, the moments you hope you’ll remember forever, the players, coaches, and owners you know you’ll never forget (for better or for worse). This is the New England Patriots at their best, their worst, and their weirdest.
Tom Brady vs. the NFL: The Case for Football’s Greatest Quarterback (Sean Glennon; 2012; 256 pages)
Showcasing one of professional football’s best players, this book spotlights the life and career of gridiron great Tom Brady. More than just a biography, it relates Brady’s story while also establishing his prominent place in NFL history. By examining his skills and statistics in a variety of categories and comparing him to other great quarterbacks — including Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, and more — the guide makes a strong case for Brady as football’s best signal caller. Along the way, his best moments as a Patriot are revisited, from championship seasons and his favorite receivers to his relationship with legendary coach Bill Belichick. With detailed sidebars on Brady’s celebrity status, fashion sense, much-talked-about hair, and supermodel wife, this is a must-have for faithful New England fans and pro football buffs alike.
100 Things Patriots Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Donald Hubbard; 2011; 256 pages)
Most Patriots fans have taken in a game or two at Gillette Stadium, have seen highlights of a young Gino Cappelletti, and have heard the story of the team s improbable run to Super Bowl XX. But only real fans know the origins of the famous Pat Patriot mascot, the best place to grab a meal before or after a game, or which 12 quarterbacks arrived at the franchise s inaugural training camp back in 1960.
100 Things Patriots Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is the ultimate resource guide for true fans of the New England Patriots. Whether you re a die-hard booster from the days of Babe Parilli or a new supporter of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, these are the 100 things every fan needs to know and do in their lifetime. Author Donald Hubbard has collected every essential piece of Patriots knowledge and trivia, as well as must-do activities, and ranks them all from 1 to 100, providing an entertaining and easy-to-follow checklist as you progress on your way to fan superstardom.
New England Patriots IQ: The Ultimate Test of True Fandom (Chuck Burgess; 2012; 102 pages)
New England Patriots IQ: The Ultimate Test of True Fandom will challenge every Patriots football follower with over 200 interesting, entertaining, and sometimes hilarious questions and answers along with some enlightening editorial comments about the history of the storied franchise.
Patriotology Trivia Challenge: New England Patriots Football (Kick the ball; 96 pages; 2011)
Updated with fun and interesting facts through the end of the 2010 football season, Patriotology Trivia Challenge: New England Patriots Football offers Patriots fans the opportunity to relive the Patriots’ greatest moments, including:
-Awards and Honors
-Key Player Stats
-And Much More
Each of the book’s 210 multiple choice questions set up in game format allows players to give informed answers even for the book’s more ambitious questions. In addition, most answers include in-depth supportive background offering the book’s players even greater knowledge about correct responses.
New England Patriot Whimsy: Road to Super Bowl XLVI (William Russo; 2012; 256 pages)
Following New England’s favorite football team from the lockout to the Super Bowl, this collection of humorous essays traces the development of the season for the Patriots. Written month-by month as events happened, the reports provide a light-hearted perspective on the on and off-field antics of favorites like Ochocinco, the Gronk, Wes Welker, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady.
New England Patriots: Yesterday & Today (Richard Johnson; 2009; 160 pages)
A history of the Pats, written by the curator of the Sports Museum in Boston. Former Pats QB Steve Grogan authors the forward.
Won for All : The Inside Story of the New England Patriots’ Improbable Run to The Super Bowl (Pepper Johnson with Bill Gutman; 2002; 256 pages)
After losing three of the first four games in the 2001-2002 season, the New England Patriots roared back to finish the year with an 11-5 record and completed the surprising turnaround by beating the St. Louis Rams in one of the most exciting Super Bowls in NFL history. Johnson, who played linebacker for 13 years, joined New England as an unpaid liaison in 2000 and was the inside linebackers’ coach during the championship season. Although Johnson does reminisce about his playing days (particularly his years with the New York Giants), he gives a first-rate account of the Patriots’ transformation from a 5-11 team in 2000 to Super Bowl champs the following season. Johnson, writing with Gutman, picks up the story at the end the 2001-2002 season, then backtracks readers from training camp through the Super Bowl. Along the way, he describes how head coach Bill Belichick created a winning team by weeding out players who did not fit his playing style. Johnson does a terrific job of bringing readers into the Patriots’ locker room as he discusses strategy about each game while also providing an insider’s perspective on various members of the team; an especially compelling chapter deals with a week in the life of an NFL coach, illustrating the pressures coaches face each week in the season. Patriot fans will no doubt enjoy this recap of the Super Bowl run, as will fans who want a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in professional football.
The New England Patriots: Tragedy and Triumph (Larry Fox; 1977; 345 pages)
Larry Fox’s book, based on interviews and stories from players and personnel during the first 20 years makes this book interesting reading.
He dedicated the book to fallen player Darryl Stingley and opens with the tale of how Darryl was crippled and paralyzed by Jack Tatum and how the team reacted to this injury.
Full of first hand accounts of ALL the things that happened. The good the bad and the ugly.
Includes the following
-Season by season, game by game results
-All time roster 1960~1979
-Season by season stat leaders
There are a ton of football books worth reading that are not specific to the Patriots as well. Here are a handful of those that you may want to consider taking a look at.
Football Scouting Methods (Steve Belichick; 1962; 196 pages)
“Considered the bible of scouting techniques” according to the Los Angeles Times, Football Scouting Methods explains the basic scouting strategies and insights of author Steve Belichick. He was widely viewed as the ablest football scout of his time and coached at the U.S. Naval Academy for 33 years; his son is New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a three-time Super Bowl winner.
When Steve Belichick died in November 2005, the New York Times headline cited him as “Coach Who Wrote the Book on Scouting,” and quoted Houston Texans General Manager Charley Casserly calling Football Scouting Methods “the best book on scouting he had ever read.” Joe Bellino, Navy’s Heisman Trophy winner in 1960, told the Times that Steve Belichick “was a genius. On Monday nights, he would give us his scouting reports, and even though we were playing powerhouses, I always felt we were prepared because he found a way for us to win.”
In recent years Football Scouting Methods has been one of the top ten most sought out-of-print books; used copies have been quite scarce. This reissue edition makes the original 1962 text available once again in exact facsimile.
Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look (Pat Kirwan; 225 pages)
Today’s NFL fans have more viewing options than ever before. Yet while more and more football fans are watching the NFL each week, many of them don’t know exactly what they should be watching. What does the offense s formation tell you about the play that s about to be run? When a quarterback throws a pass toward the sideline and the wide receiver cuts inside, which player is to blame? Why does a defensive end look like a Hall of Famer one week and a candidate for the practice squad the next?
In 2010, Pat Kirwan, popular analyst for NFL.com and Sirius NFL Radio and a veteran front office executive, and co-author David Seigerman published Take Your Eye Off the Ball, a book that takes you inside a coach s mind as he builds a roster or constructs a game plan, to the line of scrimmage with the quarterback, and deep into the perpetual chess match between offense and defense. Now comes Take Your Eye Off the Ball: Playbook Edition, an updated, expanded, and interactive version of their previous best seller.
The Essential Smart Football (Chris Brown; 154 pages; 2012)
The Essential Smart Football is an examination of football’s most important strategies and ideas, through the lens of the game’s best coaches, players, and schemes. Brilliantly written and eschewing unnecessary jargon and technicality, it makes a major contribution to our understanding of football to help all of us — coaches, players, and fans — appreciate the game we love all the more.
The Essential Smart Football features analysis of football’s top strategists and their schemes, including:
– Urban Meyer’s spread offense
– Tom Brady’s no-huddle attack
– Bill Belichick’s hybrid defense
– Mike Leach’s pass-happy “Air Raid” offense
– The most popular scheme for running the ball in the NFL
– Nick Saban’s school of defense.
The book also includes explorations of modern approaches to the West Coast Offense, evolutions in defensive fronts and coverages, the changing role of the running game in spread and pro-style offenses, and much more.
Sports Illustrated Blood, Sweat & Chalk: Inside Football’s Playbook: How the Great Coaches Built Today’s Game (Tim Layden; 256 pages; 2010)
Building a Champion: On Football and the Making of the 49ers (Bill Walsh; 1992; 350 pages)
Bill Walsh: Finding the Winning Edge (Bill Walsh, with Brian Billick and James Peterson; 2007; 550 pages)
The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership (Bill Walsh with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh; 2010; 251 pages)
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