Book Review: The Blueprint: Christopher Price

Posted on March 7, 2011

In the weeks leading up to Super Bowl, one of the questions that was asked to the Green Bay Packers was, “When did you realize that you were a Super Bowl team?” Everybody answered the same thing, “The game against New England.” You know what’s weird? Green Bay lost that game. Apparently, not sucking and almost winning against the Patriots is enough to cause a team to buck up and get to the biggest game in their sport.

The dominance of the Patriots is really only an event of this decade. ‘The Blueprint’ is the story of how Belichick took the rag-tag batch of mis-fits (seriously) and turned them into a billion dollar franchise, practically overnight. Christopher Price is a veteran New England sports reporter and does a bang up job.

This book should be a model for sports reporting, in my opinion, for two reasons. First, he doesn’t resort to epic metaphors or flowery writing. He understands that sports stories write themselves. He uses anecdotes (my favorite being from back in the 60s when a fan urinated on an emergency responder), statistics and first person accounts to tell the story.

Secondly it has a deep deep knowledge of the inner workings of a team and understands that the difference between a win and a loss is often nothing more than chance.

Belichick is the protagonist of this story, and, quite surprisingly, provides some of the best quotes and anecdotes of the whole thing. He even comes across as being somewhat human; just a guy who really, really likes the game of football. When he inherited the Patriots, they were just awful. And he built it from the ground up by ‘building a team’ rather than collecting star players. His concept is wildly considered to be the platonic ideal for crafting a team in the NFL: depth is what wins games.

But more importantly, Price discusses the empire that Belichick has built. Many of his subordinates go on to coach at college (Saban is a notable example) and call him up and let him know when there’s a ‘Belichick-worthy’ guy on the roster.

In many ways it’s the same story as ‘Moneyball’: efficiency in an inefficient market.

I personally hate the Patriots. I don’t like Tom Brady’s hair and I don’t like the ruthless efficiency of their offense. However I respect the fact that they are a goliath and this book was an incredible insight into their history and system. Price has obviously done his homework, and let his personal feelings aside to tell the story of the ‘Pats’ in ‘The Blueprint.’

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