Patriot Reign

Patriot Reign is a best-selling book by Boston Globe/New York Times sports writer Michael Holley resulting from two years he was given unprecedented access to the inner sanctums of the world champion New England Patriots football operations, as they worked to turn a season of good luck into a legitimate contender of a team. The book was published in 2004 by the William Morrow subsidiary of Harper-Collins books.

Holley spent his days tracking the behind the scenes operations in the New England Patriots organization between their first and second Super Bowl wins, sitting in on meetings, and never being asked to exclude anything. Prohibited from nothing, Holley roamed the managerial meetings and team areas normally closed to the press, and conducted in depth interviews with scouts, coaches, and other Patriots insiders, up to and including owner Robert Kraft, and his son, President of the Patriots, Jonathan Kraft.

Holley followed the team, day-to-day, from within the organization for nearly two full seasons as coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick resumed the building of a model NFL franchise. The team's progression was interrupted by the Patriots' unexpected over victory over the St Louis Rams — nicknamed "The Greatest Show on Turf" — in Super Bowl XXXVI. Shortly after the surprise victory, Holley pitched his book concept to Belichick. The idea was rubber stamped by the Krafts, and Holley took a leave of absence from his work at the Globe to immerse himself in the New England Patriots.

In February 2009, the book was cited by syndicated radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh discussed the passages in the book dealing with Belichick's philosophy that he found to be instructive on his program.

Patriot Reign
Patriot Reign HC ed bookcover
Hardcover, 1st edition cover
AuthorMichael Holley
Cover artistAP Photo by Jim Rogash
CountryUnited States
SubjectTom Brady, Bill Belichick,
Robert Kraft, Jonathan Kraft,
Scott Pioli, Bill Parcells,
New England Patriots,
National Football League,
and so forth.
GenreSports coverage, analysis and history
Publication date
Media typehardcover, Trade Paperback
Pages240 / ???
796.332/092 B 22
LC ClassGV939.B45 H65 2004


Belichick's Background

The first few chapters of the work set the stage and introduce the main Patriots 'characters' and their resumes. Rather than biographical minutiae, the book focuses on matters which would be most of interest to fans. The book begins by covering the early experiences of Bill Belichick as a young coach including his tutoring under his late father, Steven Belichick, a lifelong scout and coach for the United States Naval Academy football program whom he began to help "breaking down film" and recording (analyzing upcoming opponent) plays as early as age eleven. Belichick was so skilled at film analysis that when he took a position as a graduate intern where this was his job with the Baltimore Colts, his salary was doubled after only a few weeks.

The book shifts to focus on the early coaching career of Belichick (from age 23) as he went from graduate intern to jobs as various positions coach under four different coaches in three different football organizations including Ted Marchibroda in Baltimore and Rick Forzano of the Detroit Lions.

Holley all but ignores Belichick's ten years or so with the New York Giants as defensive co-ordinator and (eventually) as assistant coach — where he established himself as an important defensive mind — only touching on those years in passing. Only cursory mentions are made throughout the book of the achievements of Belichick's defenses, and the dominating Giants' teams he helped construct..

The book goes back to the near-hiring ofhead coach of the Phoenix Cardinals in 1987 before that team moved from St Louis.

Belichick's Tenure in Cleveland

Patriot Reign addresses the era four years later when Belichick would coach the Cleveland Browns, from 1991–1995. At the time, Belichick was the youngest NFL head coach, and one considered average at the time. The media disliked Belichick's policies of restricting access to the team after they'd enjoyed years of free access. Holley relates the Cleveland press's changing views about Belichick, and that he "may be worthy of respect", as he had taken a 2-14 team to 11-5 and the AFC playoffs in just three years.

At the time of Belichick's infamous resignation after one-day as coach of the New York Jets — Belichick wrote "I resign as HC of the NYJ" on a sheet of loose-leaf paper — conventional wisdom was still not that Belichick would be a sure-fire success as a head coach.

Holley covers the Browns' departure from Cleveland to Baltimore, that left Browns owner Art Modell the most hated man in Cleveland — so much so that, only a few years prior, Modell wouldn't attend the funeral of a long time friend and associate, for fear of his life.

Holley addresses mistakes that Belichick admits he made with the press, Browns' management and the eccentric owner Art Modell in his first position as head coach. This section reveals that Belichick resents the press's perception that he had been a Parcells disciple—which Belichick states is disrespectful of the other great coaches he worked under prior to working under Parcells.

The following chapters highlight the author's opinion of Belichick as a complex man, cerebral coach, teacher and parent. The book highlights Belichick's penchant for levity and storytelling, while being profane as is needed. This part of his history concludes with how Belichick parted ways with owner Art Modell and did not follow the team in the 1996–97 off season to Baltimore where it was reincarnated as today's Baltimore Ravens and enters near-contemporary history when Belichick first joined the New England Patriots.

Robert Kraft and Bill Parcells

The book continues, focusing on 1996, when Belichick was hired immediately as by his old boss Bill Parcells to be the Patriots' defensive coordinator. (Belichick had worked under Parcells previously with the New York Giants.) The passage exposes the complex interpersonal dynamics governing the management interactions of the 1996 Patriots, the relationships between the Krafts and Parcells, and exposes key points in their characters, philosophies, and history.

As the new assistant head coach for the New England Patriots, Belichick soon found he'd become the ombudsman to the novice owners Robert Kraft and his son Jonathan, who had a stormy relationship with Parcells, whom they inherited when Kraft bought the team. It was noted that there was "a history" between the owners and Parcells that was leading to a deterioration in the team's relationship.

The book then pauses to give a football background history of Robert Kraft, and then moving tangentially into the Krafts's business history, touches on Kraft's financial evaluation that the Patriots could not be successful economically as a franchise without also owning the stadium and its revenues. Kraft couldn't afford to buy the Patriots in 1988, but when former Patriots owner Billy Sullivan sold the team to Victor Kiam, Kraft prevented Sullivan and Foxboro Stadium from going bankrupt by purchasing the stadium, making him the team's landlord. This positioned Kraft — a lifelong Patriots fan — to purchase the team in 1994.

The reader learns how former Patriots owner James Orthwein, unable to move the team as he could not break the long term lease with Foxboro Stadium, put the team up for sale in 1994; this time Kraft was able to outbid all others for the team, even though he had to pay a large price for the team, $200,000,000. With the purchase, Kraft inherited a strong-minded head coach with whom he had no relationship.

Holley next sketches in how the Krafts' business acumen improved the team's revenues, and established an ever-increasing fan base (in no small part by ending the dubious practice of blocking out local television coverage when there were seats available) which has resulted in consecutively increasing sales every years since, and a sold-out stadium since the 1996 season, with a waiting list for season tickets that goes for years.

Despite the team's marketing successes in 1996, the relationship between Kraft and Parcells was strained, and got worse with time. The new owners, with their net worth on the line, were unwilling to give a carte blanche to Parcells to spend on football operations. The Krafts believed in giving management plenty of space, but not a blank check without occasional questions and answers.

Parcells felt the owner was interfering with his prerogatives and what was needed to run a successful winning football franchise, especially in light of the new NFL salary cap which took effect in 1994. The result was a stalemate that led to Belichick — as newly hired Assistant Head Coach — mediating between the two in the 1996 season. Prior to the Patriots' appearance in Super Bowl XXXI, rumors dominated the sports media that Parcells intended to leave the Patriots after the Super Bowl, despite the fact Parcells was under contract through the 1997 season. These news reports were categorized as distracting and disruptive to the team before the game.

The team president of the Patriots (Jonathan Kraft) is quoted in the book as saying "It was a very, very strange time, and when you are not an expert at this business—you know we were still very new to the business—it can be educational. Big Bill (ie. Parcells) had kept us in the dark on a lot of things. He probably misled us on some things. And we didn't know how to go about questioning it."[1]


  1. ^ Michael Holley (2004). Patriots Reign (1st ed. HC ed.). HarperCollins. p. 30. ISBN 0-06-075794-9.
Gil Santos

Gilbert A. Santos (April 19, 1938 – April 19, 2018) was an American radio play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots of the National Football League, and morning sports reporter for WBZ radio in Boston. He was an inductee of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.He retired from WBZ radio in January 2009, and was inducted into the WBZ Radio Hall of Fame on July 9, 2009. The Patriots 2012 season was his final season of radio play-by-play.

Michael Holley

Michael S. Holley (born February 26, 1970) is an American television and radio sports commentator, sports reporter and author. He formerly wrote columns for the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Plain Dealer, and Akron Beacon Journal.

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are a professional American football team based in the Greater Boston area. The Patriots compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team plays its home games at Gillette Stadium in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts, which is located 21 miles (34 km) southwest of downtown Boston, Massachusetts and 20 miles (32 km) northeast of downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The Patriots are also headquartered at Gillette Stadium.

An original member of the American Football League (AFL), the Patriots joined the NFL in the 1970 merger of the two leagues. The team changed its name from the original Boston Patriots after relocating to Foxborough in 1971. The Patriots played their home games at Foxboro Stadium from 1971 to 2001, then moved to Gillette Stadium at the start of the 2002 season. The Patriots' rivalry with the New York Jets is considered one of the most bitter rivalries in the NFL.

Since the arrival of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady in 2000, the Patriots have since become one of the most successful teams in NFL history, claiming 16 AFC East titles as part of 18 consecutive winning seasons since 2001. The franchise has since set numerous notable records, including most wins in a ten-year period (126, in 2003–2012), an undefeated 16-game regular season in 2007, the longest winning streak consisting of regular season and playoff games in NFL history (a 21-game streak from October 2003 to October 2004), and the most consecutive division titles won by a team in NFL history (ten straight division titles from 2009 to 2018). The team owns the record for most Super Bowl appearances (nine) and wins (six) by a head coach–quarterback tandem, most Super Bowl appearances overall (eleven), tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins (six), and tied with the Denver Broncos for the most Super Bowl losses (five).

Steve Martin (American football)

Steven Albert Martin (born May 31, 1974 in St. Paul, Minnesota) is a former American football Nose Guard and Defensive Tackle that played for seven teams in a nine-year National Football League career. He played college football at the University of Missouri.

He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 1996. After playing 30 games he was released by the Colts in 1998 and finished out the season in Philadelphia. After the 1999 season he went to Kansas City and the New York Jets. He played for the New England Patriots in 2002 but his constant media interviews angered coach Bill Belichick while his advertised strengths at stopping the run went unrealized. Following a 24-7 loss to a Tennessee Titans squad that rushed for 238 yards, Martin was interviewed by New York papers before a game against his former Jets team and his comments about the reduction in his role incensed Belichick, who cut him days before the game.

Martin played for Houston in 2003 and Minnesota in 2004 before his career ended. He finished with 127 games, 200 tackles, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Super Bowl XXXI

Super Bowl XXXI was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Green Bay Packers to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1996 season. The Packers defeated the Patriots by the score of 35–21, earning their third overall Super Bowl victory, and their first since Super Bowl II. The Packers also extended their league record for the most overall NFL championships to 12. It was also the last in a run of 13 straight Super Bowl victories by the NFC over the AFC. The game was played on January 26, 1997 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This Super Bowl featured two clubs that had recently returned to competitiveness. After 24 mostly dismal seasons since Vince Lombardi left, the Packers' fortunes turned after head coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Brett Favre joined the team in 1992. After four losing seasons, the Patriots' rise began in 1993 when Bill Parcells was hired as head coach, and the team drafted quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Under their respective head coaches and quarterbacks, Green Bay posted an NFC-best 13–3 regular season record in 1996, while New England advanced to their second Super Bowl after recording an 11–5 record.

The game began with the teams combining for 24 first-quarter points, the most in Super Bowl history. The Packers then scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter, including Favre's then-Super Bowl record 81-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Antonio Freeman. In the third quarter, the Patriots cut the lead to 27–21 off of running back Curtis Martin's 18-yard rushing touchdown. But on the ensuing kickoff, Desmond Howard returned the ball a then-Super Bowl record 99 yards for a touchdown. The score proved to be the last one, as both teams' defenses took over the rest of the game. Howard became the first special teams player ever to be named Super Bowl MVP. He gained a total of 154 kickoff return yards, and also recorded a then-Super Bowl record 90 punt return yards, thus tying the then-Super Bowl records of total return yards (244) and combined net yards gained (244).

This was the first Super Bowl broadcast by Fox under its first contract to carry NFL games. By a large margin it was the highest-rated program aired in the network's history at the time.

Tom Brady

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. (born August 3, 1977) is an American football quarterback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). Brady has played in nine Super Bowls, in which he won six of them, the most of any football player in NFL history. Due to his numerous accomplishments, records, and accolades, he is considered by many sports analysts to be the greatest quarterback of all time.After playing college football for the University of Michigan, Brady was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, and went on to become the team's starting quarterback in his second season after a week 2 injury to Drew Bledsoe. Due to his late selection, Brady is considered the biggest "steal" in the history of the NFL Draft. Brady has been with the Patriots for 19 seasons, which is the NFL record for seasons quarterbacking for one team. In Brady's seventeen seasons as a starter, he has played in a record nine Super Bowls with the Patriots, and is one of only two quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl in their first season as a starter (the other being Kurt Warner). Brady holds most of the postseason quarterback records, leading all quarterbacks in postseason touchdowns, passing yards, and completions, while owning the corresponding Super Bowl records as well.

Brady has won four Super Bowl MVP awards (Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX, and LI), the most ever by a player, as well as three league MVP awards (2007, 2010, 2017); he is the oldest player to have received either award. Brady has also been selected to 14 Pro Bowls, which ties the NFL record for most selections. He has led his team to more division titles (16) than any other quarterback in NFL history. Brady is fourth all-time in career passing yards for regular season play, third in career touchdown passes, first in postseason career passing yards, first in postseason career passing touchdowns, fourth in career passer rating, and fourteenth in postseason career passer rating. For regular season and postseason combined, Brady is first all-time in career passing yards and touchdown passes. He is one of only two players (the other being Brett Favre) in NFL history to amass 70,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards.The only quarterback to reach 200 regular-season wins, Brady is the winningest quarterback in NFL history. With a postseason record of 30–10, he is first all-time in playoff wins and appearances for an NFL player. Brady has led the Patriots to an NFL-record eight consecutive AFC championship games since 2011 (thirteen overall), and has never had a losing season as a starting quarterback. He is tied for the record for the longest touchdown pass at 99 yards to Wes Welker.For his alleged involvement in the highly publicized Deflategate football-tampering scandal, Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season. Brady and the Patriots won two of the next three Super Bowls, making him the record holder for most Super Bowl wins by a player, and the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, at 41.

Tom Crean (basketball)

Thomas Aaron Crean (born March 25, 1966) is an American college basketball coach and the current head coach for the Georgia Bulldogs of University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Crean was previously the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team. Prior to that, he served as head coach at Marquette University (1999–2008), where his team reached the 2003 NCAA Final Four.

Crean's basketball philosophy emphasizes fast breaks and transition offense. His guidance of the Indiana program to success from "unthinkable depths" was regarded as one of the most remarkable rebuilding projects in NCAA basketball history. In 2012, he was named the mid-season Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, the Sporting News Big Ten Coach of the Year, and the National Coach of the Year. In 2016, Crean was named by the coaches and media the Big Ten Coach of the Year after coaching Indiana to their second outright Big Ten regular-season championship in four years.

Division championships (21)
Conference championships (11)
League championships (6)
Retired numbers
Current league affiliations
Former league affiliation
Seasons (60)

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