PORT ST LUCIE, Florida – Jeff Benedict’s ‘THE DYNASTY‘ is as spellbinding as a Tom Brady fourth-quarter, final-seconds, march-down-the-field, come-from-behind playoff victory.
The comprehensively researched book needs 522 pages to bind this spell. Benedict’s narrative regales the reader with the undisputed 20-year dynasty of Robert Kraft, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots. Just as importantly, Benedict juxtaposes this tenure with the multi-billion-dollar business of the NFL, the machinations of the Commissioner’s Office, the culture and politics of America, and the unabashed love of the New England fan base.
Although not explicitly concerned with the team’s dominance in the AFC, its six Super Bowl triumphs, its incomparable players year after year, its Spygate debacle, its three Super Bowl defeats, or its Deflategate fiasco, Benedict explains in engrossing detail all these facets of the Patriots’ sovereignty and so many more as well.
Rather, the heart of this chronicle—and its most memorable theme—explores the intriguing relationship among Kraft, Brady, and Belichick (all avid golfers, by the way) and how both their collaboration and their individual, single-minded pursuits forged the Patriots’ two decades of preeminence. Hardly a puff piece, Benedict also reveals the many frustrations and failures that they, and the Patriots, incurred along the way.
‘THE DYNASTY‘ is a must read for all Patriot devotees, even the most knowledgeable, for Benedict recounts private and intimate conversations and details and events and incidents that are being released for the first time.
The book is available online for about $21 and $14 on Kindle.
In September of 2016, I interviewed Adam Vinatieri, who was instrumental in the New England Patriots’ three Super Bowl seasons and victories in 2001, 2003, and 2004 and was a clutch kicker throughout his ten-year career in New England. Here are excerpts from that interview that help to clarify why the Patriots have been so successful.
With a January blizzard in his face and ice water in his veins, Adam Vinatieri warmed the hearts of every Patriots’ fan at the 2001 Division Championship. His 45-yard field goal with 23 seconds left tied the Oakland Raiders at 13-13. Then in OT, he gave a new meaning to his nickname “Iceman” when he notched the 23-yard game winner.
Two weeks later in the Superdome for XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams, Vinatieri ignited the souls of us all. With the game tied at 17-17, he kicked a 48-yard gem with no time on the clock, and we had won our first Super Bowl, 20-17.
Two years later in XXXVIII in Houston, Vinatieri kept the flame burning by kicking a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left to beat the Carolina Panthers, 32-29.
And the next year in Jacksonville, the Patriots didn’t need any last-minute heroics from Vinatieri, just a routine field goal and three PATs, to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
From 1996-2005, “Automatic Adam” kicked 18 game-winning field goals with less than one-minute remaining, including the postseason. In his 10 seasons, Vinatieri accrued 1,156 points and made his #4 a most popular Patriots jersey, right up there with #12.
After the 2005 season, the Pats did not place the “franchise tag” on Vinatieri, allowing him to become a free agent. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts and, along with Peyton Manning, won another Super Bowl in 2006.
Vinatieri is an avid golfer and sportsman and is a member at The Preserve at Boulder Hills in Wyoming, Rhode Island, New England’s only four-season sporting retreat.
OK, plenty of time left on the clock for the future Hall of Famer’s comments, and just like most of his field goal attempts, they are good!
LBM: How did you pull off those three remarkable field goals in the 2001 playoffs?
AV: Being in the right place at the right time! The first one in the snow against Oakland was a crazy day with a lot of white stuff on the playing surface, a pretty heavy blizzard, the “Tuck Rule” play, and a Raiders team that had come to play. I was lucky I had the opportunity to tie the game up. I knew it was a low-percentage kick, but all I could think about was starting the ball on line and getting the ball above the line of scrimmage. Thank goodness it went through. Then when I had the opportunity on a shorter one to seal the game for us, that one went through, too.
Fast forward two weeks to New Orleans. A 48 yarder in the Super Bowl is never an easy proposition, but after going through the Oakland game, I just told myself to get this sucker up and on line and it would go. When it went through the uprights, I had this amazing reaction, “Holy Cow, we have just won the Super Bowl!” We were massive underdogs throughout the playoffs, and we had just won the greatest show on turf. The first time you win that Lombardi trophy, there is no feeling in the world like it, let me tell you.
LBM: What is your mindset when you know your kick will be the difference between victory and defeat?
AV: I try not to think about that in particular because that would take my mind off the kick itself. I mean, obviously, I know the game situation, but I just try to focus on the technical side. I can’t control the snap or the hold or the defenders coming at me. My job begins when the ball is on the ground in front of me. That’s when I block out everything else going on around me and concentrate only on the execution.
It’s like what Coach Belichick would always say to us—that you focus on the little things that you have to do, and do one thing at a time. You do your job individually, do what you have to do, and then collectively, as a team, everything else will fall into place. And that’s what’s made this team so successful year after year.
LBM: What else will you remember most about your 10 years with the Patriots?
AV: So many, many great memories. The fans are just amazing and incredibly supportive. Playing at the old Foxboro stadium and then Gillette, it was always an electric atmosphere. I certainly appreciate the opportunity that I had to play for the Patriots and the achievements that followed. For me, specifically, what I take away the most is the relationships that I built with my other teammates. Many of those guys are still my best friends 15 years later and always will be.
LBM: You played with both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning? How special was that? Did you get to play golf with either?
AV: I was just so incredibly fortunate to play with two of the best quarterbacks that have ever played the game. You can’t write a better book! And we won a lot of games and championships because of those two guys. It was a fun run with them, for sure.
Yes, I played with both Tom and Peyton, and they are pretty good golfers, too. They don’t play enough to be scratch golfers and to be really consistent, but they hit the ball a long way, and their naturally competitive sides help make them good golfers. It makes them bear down when the pressure is on and they have to make a shot or a putt.
LBM: What was your relationship with Coach Belichick?
AV: I thought we got along pretty well. He’s a tough guy and a serious guy. But underneath that hard shell, he’s a pretty good dude. The coach-player relationship is obviously a professional one, but there is a much softer, nicer side to him—a personal side—that most of the media never gets to see because he won’t allow them to see it. His players know what I’m talking about. You play for Coach Belichick, you’re going to win a lot of games, and you’re going to be pretty successful. It was a pleasure playing for him and on his teams. That’s for sure.
LBM: Your five favorite golf courses when you were a Patriot?
AV: The Country Club, TPC Boston, New Seabury, The Ridge Club, and Rhode Island Country Club.
LBM: Who would be in your Dream Foursome?
AV: Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, and John Daly.