It goes without saying that 2020 has been an unprecedented season for the New England Patriots. That is even before you throw COVID-19 and a dash of international pandemic into the mix.
In all fairness, not only did the quarterback (with which the dynasty was built) leave, but the team saw a number of key pieces on the offence AND defence move right along.
Now, you don’t need me to tell you that I’m a Patriots fan. Win—lose, Brady—no Brady, Gronk—no Gronk….. Okay yes that last one is a bit of a tough pill to swallow but you get my point.
I don’t know about you, but I think the air definitely feels different. Coach Bill Belichick whilst still maintaining the essence and coolness that we know of Coach Bill there has been a few more smiles than perhaps we are used to seeing. We have a dancing Quarterback (who got COVID… seriously 2020?!) and perhaps more significantly we have an attitude shift.
When was the last time a Patriots fan marvelled at its team’s moral victory? Okay, to be fair we have been able to focus on literal victories, we have been spoiled, mostly. After all, we lost against the Seattle Seahawks and then the Patriots lost again against the Kansas City Chiefs and we were…. okay.
Now no one likes losing, obviously, but I bet it’s been a long time Patriots fans have not felt actually BAD about losing.
We can see that the team is trying, they are TRYING. Against all the adversity of this year, to have your team fight is in itself a victory.
But, are they trying or just trying now?
The Denver Broncos should not have beaten the Pats.
The 49ers…. well that might be a different story.
The game against the Bills was a little more promising, although the outcry to start Jarrett Stidham and trade Stephon Gilmore is still vaguely ringing in my ears even well after the trade deadline. But…they did beat the Jets…. a small sigh of relief rippled through Patriot fandom.
Speaking of air… how’s about the weather for that Ravens game?? A win is always great. As Patriots fans we may have been a little spoiled but that fight against the Baltimore Ravens in the pouring rain and high winds had a dramatic feel about it and I loved it!
The Patriots aren’t the same team but they still have that fierce hard working mentality any fan is sure to be proud of.
All this to one side, I can imagine most fans will agree that all of us are glad that we have football. The players are taking to the field and giving us a much-needed escape from the world as it is at the moment and let’s hold onto the small victories this year and celebrate them.
Meanwhile we can still commemorate the history of this glorious team. Author Jeff Benedict this year brought us his gift of the book The Dynasty. It catalogues the last twenty years from the Bill Parcells era to the final walking away of Tom Brady.
We are shown the story of Robert Kraft, of his desire to own the New England Patriots and his sheer determination to keep them in Boston.
Of course that’s only touching on the full story contained within the pages of this novel of which I found so interesting. In all fairness the story was mostly new to me, I have made no secret I hit this Patriot party late but The Dynasty paints the past so well I could picture it all.
So even if you were privy to the full story, I’m pretty sure there is plenty in this book to whisk you back into your past, your childhood or to just tell you stuff you never knew.
Jeff Benedict was kind enough to answer a few questions to close up my article on The Dynasty and so I took on the role of writer/interviewer…
Q: What surprised you the most during your time on this project?
JB: The humanity of those who built the dynasty.
Q: I understand you are a New England native, but a Miami Dolphins fan; what was it that caused you to become a Dolphins fan?
JB: The first football game I remember seeing was the Super Bowl between the Cowboys and Dolphins in January 1972. I was five years old. I was attracted to the color of Miami’s uniforms. The next season the Dolphins went undefeated and won the Super Bowl. Like many of my friends, I fell in love with the Dolphins because they were champions and they had the coolest uniforms and had players like Csonka, Kiick, Griese, and Mercury Morris.
Q: Has this intense experience with ultimately a team the Dolphins play against regularly, changed how you are as a fan?
JB: I stopped being a Dolphins fan around the time that Dan Marino retired in the late 90s. And I became an admirer of Tom Brady and the Patriots as they started to build a winning tradition in New England.
Q:Were there any questions you didn’t get the opportunity to ask that you wish you had?
JB: Whenever I finish a project, I always think of things I could have asked. But generally speaking, I didn’t come away with any regrets on this project.
Q:Who is your favourite Patriots player and why?
JB: It depends what we’re talking about. I developed immense admiration for Drew Bledsoe and his invisible contribution to the dynasty. Rob Gronkowski was pure joy to interview and be around — the kind of guy you’d want as a next door neighbor. Tom Brady was the most real and the most down to earth. I learned more from Tom than any other player.
Q:The Brady leaving/ Belichick pushing controversy is still going on, how much were you privy to? Who gave you the information on that particular situation?
JB: The two years that I spent inside the organization ended up being Brady’s last two years in New England. That was a bit of fortuitous timing for me. What I wrote in the book about Tom’s departure was based on two things — my observations during the two years that I was in Foxborough and the interviews I conducted with the principals.
I want to thank Jeff Benedict for his time and fabulous, interesting answers and thank you all for reading my column. I hope it causes you to consider ordering The Dynasty, it is a glorious read.
–Clare L. Cooper is a Columnist and Special Contributor for Full Press Coverage. Her New England Patriots insight can be found @FPC_Patriots