Stadium Stories: New England Patriots
by Jim Donaldson
Review by C. Douglas Baker
Stadium Stories: New England Patriots is a nice collection of stories culled from the history of the National Football League's New England Patriots. It is not a comprehensive history of the franchise, nor is it intended to be.
It's simply a collection of interesting tales about the stadium, players, coaches, and owners of this colorful professional football team. The book is nicely organized by themes in roughly chronological order and reads at about the middle school level.
The following is a brief chapter by chapter overview of the contents of the book which will give the reader an idea of what to expect:
No Place Like Home provides some good anecdotes about some of the crappy stadiums that the Patriots have played in. It has some very comical stories in it. Look for the one about "The Big Flush."
A Different League talks about the Patriots' early years in the American Football League (prior to the AFL's merger with the National Football League) featuring players like Gino Cappelletti, Nick Buoniconti, Babe Parilli, and Jim Nance.
Bobby Sullivan is devoted to the Patriots' founder and first owner. Not a wealthy man like many owners, the team was cash strapped through much of its early existence.
Remembering the `70s is my favorite chapter as that decade saw probably the most talented New England Patriots' teams that never made it over the hump to championship glory. That decade also saw the bulk of the careers of two of New England's NFL Hall of Famers, John Hannah (G) and Michael Haynes (CB).
1985-A Championship Year was a bittersweet chapter for me. That year the Patriots' went on a remarkable playoff run as a wild card team only to be demolished in the Super Bowl by the Chicago Bears 41-10. It was nice to hear that the players, despite losing, were glad to have been able to play in the big game.
The Patsies discusses what terrible times Patriots fans lived through in the late `80s and most of the `90s. Following the 1985 Super Bowl appearance, the Patriots fell completely apart and were one of the worst teams in the league. This chapter is funny in parts and—appropriately enough—a bit tongue in check at times.
Owner and Number One Fan is about Bob Kraft, the team's current owner, and his turning the franchise into a winning organization.
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow is about just that, some of the famous snow games in the New England Patriots' history. It does of course cover the infamous snow plow game (if you don't know the story, read the book!), the 2002 playoff win against Oakland in a blizzard, and the "Tuck Rule," as well as other playoff successes in cold, wintry conditions.
The Coach. What coach? There's only one it could be about right? Bill Belichick from his bizarre resignation as "HC of the NYJ" to three-time Super Bowl winner and proclamations from sports pundits that he's the best coach in the NFL.
Tom Terrific. Tom who? Tom Terrific, that is, the surprising rise of Tom Brady from a 6th round draft pick from Michigan to three-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Super Bowl MVP, and one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Dynasty, the final chapter, gives details about New England's three Super Bowl wins in 2002, 2004, and 2005—becoming the first professional football dynasty of the new millennium.
As noted earlier, this book is nicely organized and reads at about the middle school or junior high school level. The chapters are very short and include some box stories that illuminate a topic or provide some pertinent team statistics. As a result, it is very fast, quick, entertaining reading.
The key drawback of the book is there really is nothing particularly new in the book for Patriots' fans. All of these stories have been told elsewhere. But it is still fun to kick back for a few hours and read about your favorite team.
Overall, I would recommend this book for New England Patriots' fans, simply for the fact that it gives you a couple of hours of nostalgic reading pleasure, not for any specific insight or knowledge you'll gain about the team or the game. I suspect it would be a rather boring, non-productive few hours of reading for non-New England Patriots' fans.
Note the author of the book, Jim Donaldson, has covered the Patriots for the Providence Journal since 1979.