So much has been written, and so little told, about New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Nearly every media outlet that does a piece on him – Sports Illustrated, ESPN, or Monday Night Football – focuses on one of three things:
1) How he created a system in which there are no stars and players love playing for him.
2) How no coach works harder to prepare for every game.
3) How he may become the greatest coach ever, surpassing Lombardi and Landry.
David Halberstam’s new book, The Education of a Coach, is the first book to tackle Belichick in a new light. Halberstam, through access seemingly granted to no other reporter (they are, after all, neighbors and friends) is able to tell the human story of Belichick.
The thing that sets Halberstam apart from most writers is how he tells a story.
Instead of relying heavily on quotes and excessive details to convey his message, he instead writes his book as if he were telling it orally.
What makes The Education of a Coach different from every other piece on Belichick is that Halberstam does not simply tell why Belichick became successful, but how he became successful. He uses anecdotes from Belichick’s past to show how he became the way he is. Halberstam never goes out and says that, but he emphasizes the key characters of every person who has footprints in Belichick’s intensity.
I absolutely loved this book. Halberstam depicts Belichick as a modern day Jurgis, the central character from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Whenever times get tough, it seems Belichick’s motto is simply, “I must work harder.” At the same time, he is never satisfied with success.
Just look at his quotes immediately following the 2002 and 2004 Super Bowls:
2002 – “Can you believe we won the Super Bowl against the Rams with this team?”
2004 – “Can you believe we’re here? We can’t run the ball, we can’t punt the ball and we can’t snap for field goals.”
If you like books, you will love this one. If you love David Halberstam, you will not be disappointed. If you’re a Patriots fan, and even if you’re not, this is a book for you. All in all, the book is amazingly written, greatly narrated and a wonderful read.
Sean Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.