While New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick urges his players to look ahead instead of continuing to celebrate past successes, we fans are welcome to relive the team’s 2017 Super Bowl win for as long as we wish.
Just in time for the kickoff of the 2017-2018 NFL schedule and the banner unfurling at Gillette Stadium on Thursday before the Pats-Chiefs game, Wellesley sportswriter Christopher Price has released a book called “Drive for Five”. It documents the Super Bowl LI heroics of quarterback Tom Brady, his teammates and the coaches, plus everything that led up to the historic comeback. Price says he wrote the book “to put this team in some context when you look back at the past 15 years in Foxborough.”
The author of several other sports books, Price really had to jam on this one to get it done before the start of this NFL season. He cranked out 85,000 words in just 2 months, inspired by 3AM messages from his agent in the wee hours after the Patriots defeated the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Not only was it written fast, but it’s a fast read, with Price deftly juxtaposing what took place on and off the field, from Deflategate to the miraculous Julian Edelman catch to the Presidential election.
He also treats NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with an appropriate level of disdain, though I was a tad disappointed that Price hadn’t already shipped a copy to the Commish. “It’s been suggested that I hand him one at the opener,” Price says, as we discuss the book at the Wellesley High field/track complex before he heads off to coach his son’s football practice.
Price whipped up this book while also helping to get the fantastic new Boston Sports Journal off the ground. What’s more, he was balancing a busy home life that included his wife working on her doctorate and their son juggling school and sports. Price is also in the early stages of writing two other books, one about the defunct Hartford Whalers hockey team and another on the power of sports on adoptive families.
In Drive for Five , Price reminds us that the Pats didn’t have a bad 2016 draft despite having their first round pick taken away as Deflategate punishment. They grabbed a handful of players who contributed last year, including Cyrus Jones, Joe Thuney, Malcolm Mitchell, Jacoby Brissett, and Vincent Valentine. We’re also reminded that Edelman, gone for this season with a torn ACL, actually entered last season as something of a question mark because he was healing from a foot injury.
As a big Patriots fan I was familiar with a lot of the stories in the book, but I took away a few new nuggets, too. I hadn’t been aware of the significance of a section of the practice field called The Hill that is used to grind players into shape and provide an escape route for players seeking to avoid media and fans. Neither had I heard about the Pats’ defensive slogan of GTFB, which stands for Get The (Heck) Back, as a reminder not to let offensive players get behind cornerbacks and safeties.
Price sprinkles ample gems from now departed tight end and iconoclast Martellus Bennett throughout the book (for example, commenting on why Pats’ fans have remained passionate despite repeated team success, the player said “I like cake a lot, and every time I get a new slice, I’m just as happy”). Like other sportswriters, Price was sorry to see Bennett and his witticisms leave the Patriots before the start of this season, but at least he packages up 15 of the receiver’s best quotes at the back of the book as a keepsake.
In giving Bennett so much attention, Price highlights one of the team’s true heroes. “He flourished in the Patriots’ system and showed toughness fighting through injuries,” Price says. One of his goals in writing the book was to credit those, such as Bennett, journeyman defensive end Chris Long and returning offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, whose contributions might have gone overlooked amidst the team’s higher profile performers.
Will there be a sequel at the end of this season depending upon how the Patriots fare? Quite possibly, and it won’t take 3AM messages from Price’s agent to get it going. Discussions have already begun…