Reliving the New England Patriots’ 2016 season, culminating in their implausible overtime victory in the Super Bowl.
Sports journalist Price (The Blueprint: How the New England Patriots Beat the System to Create the Last Great NFL Superpower, 2007, etc.) begins with a hymn of praise to quarterback Tom Brady (“The Greatest”) and a recap of the Super Bowl victory, then reverts to the earliest stages of the 2016 campaign, including the Patriots’ draft choices and their training camp. The author addresses the weaknesses exposed in the 2015 season and the adjustments made at the quarterback position. This is significant because Brady, having lost a challenge to Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ruling in the “Deflategate” affair, was suspended for the first four games of the season. Price breaks down the coverage of the actual season into sensible segments: the four games played without Brady; Brady’s return and dominant performance; a stretch of three critical games played in a 12-day span; securing the AFC East title; and finally the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Some players unexpectedly emerge as heroes (James White), and others fade due to injury (Rob Gronkowski) or trades (Jamie Collins); through it all, the steady hand of coach Bill Belichick and the miraculous arm of Brady point the way. To be fair, the Patriots did have a remarkable season. The Super Bowl victory was dramatic and improbable, and Brady did have a genuine beef with Goodell, who had disciplined other players more leniently for arguably more egregious offenses. The construction of a team that could win the Super Bowl once again highlights Belichick’s indisputable coaching genius, but this volume is overflowing with admiration and superlatives. The narrative occasionally reaches a near-religious tone, as Brady and company climb that hill to the promised land in a chapter titled “Redemption.”
True believers across Patriot Nation will be gratified, but readers hoping for dispassionate analysis will be disappointed.