I enjoyed Holly's first Pats book so this could be worth a holiday read: from Peter King today
War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team, (itbooks), by Michael Holley.
Anything Holley writes, after his memorable Patriot Reign insider's tome about New England's rise to power, I'll read. This didn't let me down. It's a book about Belichick, chief lieutenant Scott Pioli and wunderkind Thomas Dimitroff growing the Patriots, then Pioli and Dimitroff splitting off to run the show in Kansas City and Atlanta, respectively. The explanatory parts of how a draft is put together (Holley is especially strong analyzing the Chiefs' way of picking players under Pioli) merges well with stories about trades and draft strategy.
I especially liked Holley fleshing out how the three men disagree. Their football backbone is the same, Holley writes. But whereas Belichick, who gives the vibe of a conservative team manager, takes chances on off-field risks like tight end Aaron Hernandez, an outside-the-box thinker like Dimitroff won't touch problem children.
Dimitroff had black dots -- meaning he wouldn't draft them -- on both Florida's Brandon Spikes and Miami's Hernandez in the 2010 draft. Owner Arthur Black even pressed Dimitroff on why he had so many black-dot guys, many more than other teams in the league. "[Dimitroff] was an extension of a Belichick Tree, not a Belichick monolith,'' Holley writes. "He typed a few notes in his iPad about general-managing in his third year. Be true to yourself, he wrote. Remember your roots: tough, honest, organic.''
Holley captures a dinner at the Senior Bowl in Mobile with Pioli and Dimitroff, in which they discuss the philosophy of building a team, right down to how they want their draft rooms to feel on draft day.
Said Pioli: "I need silence. I need limited activity.''
"We have things you would never allow in your draft room,'' Dimitroff said.
"Like what?'' Pioli said.
Like Falcons board of directors members Hank Aaron and Andrew Young sitting in the draft room if they choose. Presumably, it makes Blank happy.
"That's how I see it differently,'' Pioli said to Dimitroff. "Draft day is not entertainment in that room, okay? Last year, I spent $30 millon guaranteed on one pick. I've gotta have a clear head to make that decision. Do Fortune 500 companies have people coming into their boardrooms? I don't know, maybe I'm taking myself too seriously.''
"Respectfully, Scott, if my mistakes are because we have seven limited partners and a couple business associates in there, then my personal opinion is I'm not the right person for the job.''
There's more talk, and Pioli said: "We've got to be careful about how much of football loses its soul. Because we got to where we are because we kept the football soul.
Fascinating, too, is the discussion of last spring's Julio Jones trade. Blank urged Dimitroff to feel out his friends in the business to see if the trades makes as much sense to them as it does to the Falcons. Dimitroff called Belichick. "As a friend,'' Belichick told him, "I wouldn't do it.'' His advice was to not move up 21 picks in the first round, with all the attendant costs, to get Jones. Stick where you are, and take a good receiver like Pitt's Jonathan Baldwin. He's just as good, Belichick says.
Of course, the Falcons dealt for Jones. And Pioli took Baldwin for the Chiefs at the bottom of the round.
Holley also shows much of Belichick's human side -- at his father and mentor Steve's funeral. At the funeral of a man the Browns fired when he was coach, the father of Thomas Dimitroff, longtime scout Tom Dimitroff. ("Would you mind if I put a rose on your husband's casket?'' Belichick said to Tom Dimitroff's widow. She allowed it.) When protégé Josh McDaniels got fired in Denver last year, Belichick told him: "Call your parents. Go see them. Make sure they know you're okay because I know that they're going to go through this and feel terribly about it.''
Other tidbits Patriot fans will enjoy:
• Scouts were ticked off in 2006 that Belichick overrode their reports and picked Laurence Maroney in the first round (apparently on the strong advice of Josh McDaniels' brother Ben, one of the Maroney's college coaches) and Chad Jackson in the second round -- even after receivers coach Brian Daboll said he didn't want to coach Jackson.
• After the Boston Herald reported (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the Patriots had taped a Rams practice before the 2002 Super Bowl, Belichick went to his captains and asked if he should address the team about it -- just before the Super Bowl they played against the Giants in February 2008. The captains said no, so Belichick didn't talk to the team about it.
• Defensive keystone Vince Wilfork didn't like the trade of Mike Vrabel to Kansas City before the 2009 season. "That trade ticks me off. Right now. Still. When I heard about it, I said, 'What the f--- is going on?' If you want to talk about the Patriot Way, you start with Vrabel.' ''
• It wasn't just management that came to dislike free agent signee Adalius Thomas. It was the players. Tedy Bruschi on Thomas: "He started to question a lot of things in meeting. 'Why are we doing that?' 'Why don't we just do this?' He stopped buying in on what the coaches thought. He really did think he had all the answers, you know? And that's what he turned into: the answer man. That's when I was on my way out and I was glad to get out at that point.''
Regardless of your rooting interesting, War Room is going to take you into the inner game of pro football. I recommend it highly.
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/w ... z1cMZvT9C7