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The 25 essential books to get Patriots fans through Coronavirus quarantine

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Are you among the millions of Americans who are currently quarantined due to the Coronavirus pandemic? Are you longing for a way to pass your time without re-watching Tiger King for the fifth time? Do you want to use this time to learn more about the game of football and the history of the New England Patriots within it? Then you have come to the right place, at least to give you some guidance on where to start your journey.

Pats Pulpit is therefore happy to present its list of 25 essential books to get Patriots fans through quarantine — from inside stories and behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the team’s Super Bowl runs, to strolls through the early days of the league’s most successful organization, to a look at the game itself through the eyes of players, coaches and a Chinese military strategist that has been dead for more than 2,500 years.

If you want to broaden your understanding of football in and outside New England, and the people and strategies who have shaped it, there is no better place to begin.

Patriots History

Jeff Howe and Scott Zolak have gotten to witness their fair share of Patriots history up close and personal. Through singular anecdotes as well as conversations with current and past players, they provide fans with a one-of-a-kind, insider’s look into great moments, lowlights, and everything in between.

When Bill Belichick arrived in New England, the Patriots were a laughingstock, an organization with a losing record and a roster of overpaid, underperforming players. So how did a head coach with a questionable record transform this team and cement its place as an NFL dynasty?

From Darkness to Dynasty tells the unlikely history of the Patriots as it has never been told before — from their humble beginnings as a team bought with rainy-day money by a man who had no idea what he was doing to the fateful season that saw them win their first Super Bowl.

For decades the Patriots were a team known for having comically inept management and ownership, as well as the worst stadium in the NFL. It was only with the arrival of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in 2000 that the Pats became a powerhouse.

The Blueprint explores how the Patriots went from the dregs to a dynasty, becoming the gold standard for professional sports franchises everywhere — acknowledging what many football insiders have believed for a long time: when it comes to building a successful system, the Patriots indeed have that blueprint.

Christopher Price takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Patriots’ legendary 2016 season from the rocky start to a Super Bowl finish for ages. Complete with player interviews, behind-the-scenes stories never told before, and content provided by Patriots players themselves, Drive for Five provides a unique level of insight.

The New England Patriots Playbook chronicles the most famous moments in Patriots history. Descriptions of each featured play are accompanied with game information and quotes from participants, players, and observers with firsthand accounts.

From an inauspicious beginning and against all expectations, the 2001 Patriots fought their way from last place to an upset Super Bowl victory, completing a remarkable season that will not soon be forgotten. Former Patriots assistant coach Pepper Johnson gives an immediate — Won for All was released in 2002 — as well as an authentic behind-the-scenes glimpse at the organization’s first title.

Patriots Legends

In The Education of a Coach, Pulitzer Price-winning author David Halberstam explores the nuances of both the game and the man behind it. He uncovers what makes Bill Belichick tick both on and off the field.

Ian O’Connor delves into the mind of the man who has earned a place among coaching legends like Vince Lombardi, George Halas, and Paul Brown, presenting sides of Bill Belichick that have been previously unexplored. O’Connor discovers how this legendary coach shaped the people he met and worked with in ways perhaps even Belichick himself doesn’t know.

This one-of-a-kind exploration takes fans behind the scenes of the Patriots’ dynasty through Bill Belichick’s impact on the team, with unprecedented insider access to the head coaches, scouts, trainers, and players who make the game what it is — including insights from Bill Parcells, Todd and Dick Haley, and Belichick himself.

Featuring interviews from Patriots players and coaches, Belichick and Brady presents a fascinating portrait of the partnership between the most successful power-couple in NFL history — including behind-the-scenes anecdotes and information exploring how they have strategized and weathered controversies en route to winning, at that point, four Super Bowls.

Gary Myers tackles the legendary rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning from every angle and with unprecedented access and insight, drawing on a huge number of never-before-heard interviews with the two future Hall of Famers, their coaches, their families, and those who have played with them and against them.

By examining his skills and statistics in a variety of categories and comparing him to other great quarterbacks — including Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach, Aaron Rodgers, and more — Tom Brady vs. the NFL makes a strong case for Brady as football’s ultimate signal caller.

Whether it was in Pop Warner football, in high school, or college, Julian Edelman far exceeded everyone’s expectations. Everyone’s expectations, that is, except his own and those of his father, who took extreme and unorthodox measures to drive Edelman to quiet the doubters with ferocious competitiveness. Relentless is the story of Edelman’s rise, and the dominance of the Patriot dynasty.

In Never Give Up, Tedy Bruschi tells the powerful and inspiring story of the day when everything he believed about himself and his future was turned upside down, and how its long and grueling aftermath challenged his faith, his marriage, and his career.

Patriot Pride chronicles the extraordinary life and career of Troy Brown, who spent his entire 15-year career in New England and helped the organization win three Super Bowls. Brown’s past is explored, relating how he made it through college and into the pros despite being given up on several times, while his years with the Patriots are documented in detail.

Discover the highs and lows in Rob Gronkowski’s superstar life off the field and his astonishing, game-changing plays in this fascinating memoir from when he was still actively playing in the NFL.

Football Essentials

Football Scouting Methods, written by Bill Belichick’s late father Steve, explains how to scout opponents, recognize defenses, analyze offenses, discover “tip-offs,” compose a useful report, self-scout, and conduct postgame analysis.

Yes, this book has little to do with the sport itself but it still belongs on this list. Why? Just listen to Bill Belichick describe it during last year’s NFL 100 series: “Fundamentally, it really comes back to... you go all the way back to a few hundred years BC, Sun Tzu, The Art of War: attack weaknesses, utilize strengths, and figure out what the strengths are of your team. There are some things you have to protect, find the weaknesses of your opponent and attack. You can’t win a war by digging a hole, you have to attack. You have to figure out where you want to attack, how you want to attack, and that changes week-to-week, game-to-game.”

For 30 years, Michael Lombardi had a front-row seat and full access as three titans — Bill Walsh, Al Davis, and Bill Belichick — reinvented the game, turning it into a national obsession while piling up Super Bowl trophies. His book Gridiron Genius provides the blueprint that makes a successful organization click and win, and the mistakes unsuccessful organizations make that keep them on the losing side time and again.

What does the offense’s formation tell you about the play that’s about to be run? When a quarterback throws a pass toward the sideline and the wide receiver cuts inside, which player is to blame? Why does a defensive end look like a Hall of Famer one week and a candidate for the practice squad the next? These questions and more are addressed in Take Your Eye Off the Ball, a book that takes readers deep inside the perpetual chess match between offense and defense.

The modern game of football is filled with plays and formations with names like the Counter Trey, the Wildcat, the Zone Blitz and the Cover Two. They have become part of the sport’s vernacular, and yet for many fans they remain just names, often confusing ones. Blood, Sweat & Chalk drills deep into the core of the game to reveal not only how these chalkboard X’s and O’s really work on the field, but also where they came from and who dreamed them up.

More than just a book about schemes and strategies, The Genius of Desperation tells the stories of the game’s most prominent innovators, the adversities they endured, and the ways in which they learned to exceed their own expectations on the path to true greatness.

$500 for a book about football? In this economy? Yes, it may be expensive but Bill Walsh’s Finding the Winning Edge is one of the essentials about the game and a hugely influential read. Why else would there be an entire episode of NFL Films’ A Football Life dedicated to it if it wasn’t?

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