A behind-the-scenes look at the legendary 2016 New England Patriots season from the rocky start to the Super Bowl finish by award-winning sportswriter Christopher Price.
There are certain moments that simply transcend sports. They become larger than life and bigger than anyone ever thought possible, leaping off the field, the court, or the diamond and into the annals of not only history, but the very fabric of the American milieu. We all just witnessed such a moment on February 5th, 2017, when the New England Patriots battled back from the largest deficit in Super Bowl history to once again become world champions and secure Tom Brady’s legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time.
Amid a season of controversy, turmoil, and the most tumultuous political climate of our lifetime, the Patriots won. In spite of becoming entangled in the national spotlight on several occasions, the Patriots won. And in spite of being faced with any number of circumstances that would sink almost every other franchise in the NFL, the Patriots won.
The season began with the fallout around Deflategate and losing their MVP-caliber quarterback for the first four games of the season, but honestly, the Deflategate saga was just a small part of it all. This is the story of how the Patriots rallied together as a team to surpass their obstacles on and off the football field and how that led to a remarkable run to the title – and the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
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 and access to the story behind the legendary New England Patriots’ 2016 season.
What We Thought:
I’ll cut right to the chase, I’m a born and raised New England Patriots fan. I’m from the Boston area and have been a fan since well before the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. So needless to say, Drive for Five: The Remarkable Run of the 2016 Patriots, was a good read for me. Patriots haters and Atlanta Falcons fans might not enjoy it as much.
The book is an in-depth look at the highs (Super Bowl victory) and lows (Brady starting the season suspended for the ridiculous Deflategate scandal) and everything in between. The book roughly starts in the beginning of 2016 and losing to the Denver Broncos in the playoffs and ends hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February 2017. The 2016 Patriots team was something different, one for the record books. And boy did they break a lot of records.
I’ll go over some highlights the book focuses on. The 2016 Pats team started 3 different quarterbacks throughout the season. Franchise QB Tom Brady missed the first four games due to his Deflategate suspension thanks to Roger Goodell. In his place they started Jimmy Garoppolo who looked like the heir apparent to a 39-year-old Brady. Until he got hurt. Third string QB Jacoby Brissett then took over and got hurt himself, but played the fourth game. Pats fans expected the worse and the Pats could have easily started 0-4, but we have Bill Belichick and our team did their job and started a respectable 3-1. Price really gets into the Patriots handling of the two young quarterbacks and how Garoppolo and Brady split time during the preseason to get Jimmy G prepared to start.
Then came the return of the Golden Boy, Tom Brady, who ended the season with his fifth Super Bowl victory. I’ll get to that Super Bowl in a bit. As Price reminds us, it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows when Brady returned. The game changer Rob Gronkowski was lost for the remainder of the year with yet another injury. Freak of nature Jamie Collins was traded to the Cleveland Browns (I’d rather be lost for the remainder of the year than get traded to the Browns). And like the country, the locker room had a political feel to it.
I’ll slightly disagree with the author on how much politics was an issue, but Donald Trump and politics are buzzworthy right now and I’m sure it helps sell some books. Any time you can mention Trump, good or bad, in today’s journalism you do it. The author reminds us of Trump’s connection to Brady, Belichick and Pats owner Bob Kraft. What any of that has to do with the play on the field is beyond me because if there is a team that handles “distractions” better than anyone, it’s the Patriots. I do like Price’s piece on Kraft and how Kraft talks about Trump being there for him when his wife died. That’s not politics, that’s friendship.
You did have players not standing for the National Anthem thanks to a former quarterback in San Francisco and the Patriots had their share. Newcomer Martellus Bennett was one of them and Price seemed to love the lovable Marty. Why wouldn’t a reporter love him? He was great with quotes and was active on social media, in other words, a reporter’s dream player. Bennett won a Super Bowl, but the Patriots made no real effort to bring him back for the 2017 season so maybe he wasn’t as beloved to others outside the media.
Then there is that Super Bowl. If you are reading a book about the 2016 Patriots you know what 28-3 means. They were down 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons and, we throw around this word too often, but it fits here, made the GREATEST comeback in Super Bowl history. Yes I’m a Pats fan, but no I’m not exaggerating. It is the single greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. And it started in the third quarter. Author Price paints a pretty picture to remind us what big plays happened and the players that made them happen. From Dont’a Hightower to Julian Edelman’s catch and James White’s game winning overtime touchdown, there were multiple momentum and game changers. It all culminated with public enemy #1 Roger Goodell being booed while congratulating the team on their victory. Roger that.
Drive for Five: The Remarkable Run of the 2016 Patriots by Christopher Price is a nice peek behind the curtain of a team that doesn’t like to share too much. As a Pats fan, it’s a must read, but even if you are just a football fan, if you want to learn about how teams handle situations, draft, trade, climb hills in the preseason and everything in between, it’s a good read too. Patriots players Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty provide the afterword and foreword as well.