(CBS Local Sports)– Over the past two decades, the New England Patriots have built arguably the greatest dynasty in NFL history with six Super Bowl championships, 17 AFC East division titles and 16 straight playoff appearances. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, New England head coach Bill Belichick and former Pats quarterback Tom Brady were the three driving forces behind this unprecedented run of success.
Author Jeff Benedict writes all about one of the greatest stretches in sports history in his new Simon & Schuster called “The Dynasty” and shares stories that have never been told before about Kraft, Belichick and Brady. While much has been written about the Patriots, Benedict believes that fans will learn a lot about the franchise and a partnership unlike any other between Kraft, Brady and Belichick.
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder on a book than I have on this one,” said Benedict in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I’ve never written about this team, I’ve never covered the Patriots and I’m not a football writer per se. I came into it with a clean slate, other than I knew I was going to be writing about the best sports franchise we’ve seen in this century I think from any sports. I was most interested in how they built this winning machine and how did they sustain it for so long.”
While there is a lot known about what Belichick and Brady have accomplished on the field, Benedict was particularly interested in their history and relationship off the field. But without Kraft, Brady and Belichick may never have come together in the first place.
“The virgin territory was the backstory, in terms of how did the Patriots become a dynasty. I think that goes back to this odyssey that Robert Kraft went on starting in 1971 when he became a season ticket holder and the Patriots were essentially a brand new franchise. They were also a terrible franchise. He gets it in his mind that he would one day like to own the team and his perspective is from that of a fan who sits in the stands with his kids every Sunday. Once he gets to the point where he sees a path to acquire the team, it’s such a circuitous route that he has to take. He acquired parking lots, got the stadium out of bankruptcy and then became the landlord of the team. He essentially owned the owner at the time.”
In the book, Benedict provides details on Kraft’s rise in the business world, the Patriots almost moving to Connecticut, drafting Tom Brady, the Bill Parcells/New York Jets saga and the ending between Brady and the franchise. While there are many pivotal moments in this dynasty, the author decided to start his book in the most important place with the injury to Drew Bledsoe in 2001 against the Jets.
“The backstory of Tom Brady and how he gets to New England, we all know the elements of that, but here you get to see the formation of this Everest sized chip start forming on his shoulder. It’s going to get bigger and bigger and that becomes a part of his competitive drive. This is a big story and spans 25 years. I specifically chose to dedicate four chapters in this book to the 2001 season. To me, that’s the watershed year for this franchise. One of the things that’s so pivotal that year is Drew Bledsoe’s injury.”
“I open the book in the hospital when he’s undergoing a procedure and when he wakes up, he sees the three men standing over his bed: the coach, the owner and the quarterback. No one would image at that point that he would be looking at the nucleus of the greatest dynasty in football history. When you get to 2001 and Brady steps in, initially this is not a hard decision for Belichick because Bledsoe is out, so you put in the next guy. When it becomes critical is when Bledsoe is cleared to play medically. He should’ve been put back in the lineup. He had a $100 million contract and was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He should get his job back and here is where you see the guts and conviction of a young head coach in Bill Belichick who sticks with Brady and Kraft’s decision not to intervene, even though Bledsoe wants to. Bill Belichick staked his career on Tom Brady and Brady hitched his wagon to Belichick. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick changed the sport forever.”
Benedict’s book is available wherever books are sold and watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.