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The Education of a Coach

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Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam's bestseller takes you inside the football genius of Bill Belichick for an insightful profile in leadership. Bill Belichick's thirty-one years in the NFL have been marked by amazing success--most recently with the New England Patriots. In this groundbreaking book, David Halberstam explores the nuances of both the game and the man behi Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam's bestseller takes you inside the football genius of Bill Belichick for an insightful profile in leadership. Bill Belichick's thirty-one years in the NFL have been marked by amazing success--most recently with the New England Patriots. In this groundbreaking book, David Halberstam explores the nuances of both the game and the man behind it. He uncovers what makes Bill Belichick tick both on and off the field.


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Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam's bestseller takes you inside the football genius of Bill Belichick for an insightful profile in leadership. Bill Belichick's thirty-one years in the NFL have been marked by amazing success--most recently with the New England Patriots. In this groundbreaking book, David Halberstam explores the nuances of both the game and the man behi Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam's bestseller takes you inside the football genius of Bill Belichick for an insightful profile in leadership. Bill Belichick's thirty-one years in the NFL have been marked by amazing success--most recently with the New England Patriots. In this groundbreaking book, David Halberstam explores the nuances of both the game and the man behind it. He uncovers what makes Bill Belichick tick both on and off the field.

30 review for The Education of a Coach

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    If you decide to read this you're going to want to be a Patriots fan. If you're not, you run the risk of projectile vomiting. In The Education of a Coach, Halberstam has crafted an excellent treatise on the coaching aspect of Bill Belichick's life and it's almost nothing but praise. It stops short of out-and-out sycophancy, citing Belichick's faults, most notably displayed in a rough five years with the troubled Cleveland Browns. But how can you blame Halberstam for showering praise upon the man If you decide to read this you're going to want to be a Patriots fan. If you're not, you run the risk of projectile vomiting. In The Education of a Coach, Halberstam has crafted an excellent treatise on the coaching aspect of Bill Belichick's life and it's almost nothing but praise. It stops short of out-and-out sycophancy, citing Belichick's faults, most notably displayed in a rough five years with the troubled Cleveland Browns. But how can you blame Halberstam for showering praise upon the man? Belichick has created a dynasty (a team that remains dominant season after season) out of a ragged football team in an age where the league itself has intentionally twisted the rules in order to "level the playing field" which has essentially made it all-but-impossible to maintain a dynasty. That's great and all if you're a New England fan, but there are 31 other teams in the league and even though I've been a Patriots fan since I was about 10, I do understand why people hate them. Heck, I hated the Cowboys back in the 90s when they were the dominate power and my team was the suck of sucks. But for the last decade and more it's been the Pats who have been one of the top dogs. That alone would make most fans of other teams want to puke, but also during that time not only have they gone to the Super Bowl five times and won three of them, but they were embroiled in the Spygate scandal, they were the beneficiaries of the highly contested/controversial "Tuck Rule", and they have a quarterback with movie star good looks and a supermodel wife...so you see, there is PLENTY to hate about them and their antisocial, genius, troll-under-the-bridge coach who created all this, god bless his cold, little heart! However, if you can get passed that, and if you want to read about the kind of drive, ambition and determination it takes to rise to the top and be a successful coach in the NFL, this is a very worthwhile read indeed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    la

    let me start by saying that if youre looking for a biography of a public figure which reads like a novel OR has some sort of life-affirming message, this probably isnt going to be what youre looking for. however, if youre interested in both the complicated history of football (as told mostly though coaching and front-office politics), and like to savor the technical aspects of organizing and executing at the highest level of football, then youll find this an enjoyable read. im a pretty huge footb let me start by saying that if youre looking for a biography of a public figure which reads like a novel OR has some sort of life-affirming message, this probably isnt going to be what youre looking for. however, if youre interested in both the complicated history of football (as told mostly though coaching and front-office politics), and like to savor the technical aspects of organizing and executing at the highest level of football, then youll find this an enjoyable read. im a pretty huge football fan, but as a relative latecomer - that is, i only got 'serious' about watching as an adult - i lack some of the context on the players from decades ago. tracking some of the players and coaches and names across universities and towns and teams was occasionally a little overwhelming, but it didnt (for me) diminish the enjoyment of following this coach's path to where he is now. i already respected belichick for his quite-obvious abilities and work ethic, and this well-organized and well-written book only added to it, for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ericka Clouther

    The book contained some interesting insights into Belichick's background and football strategy. The beginning suffered from a lack of chronology jumping back and forth between young Bill Belichick and his father Steve. It also felt like there wasn't enough about his most important time on the Patriots, in part because his early years on the Patriots were somewhat devoid of the bitter politics he encountered at his other jobs, and in part because this book came out in 2005, and since then Belichi The book contained some interesting insights into Belichick's background and football strategy. The beginning suffered from a lack of chronology jumping back and forth between young Bill Belichick and his father Steve. It also felt like there wasn't enough about his most important time on the Patriots, in part because his early years on the Patriots were somewhat devoid of the bitter politics he encountered at his other jobs, and in part because this book came out in 2005, and since then Belichick has been coaching the Patriots an additional 12 years and won another 2 Super Bowls. I am a Patriot's fan via my Massachusetts-born husband, and I was disappointed that Belichick didn't pull out any defensive magic last night in Super Bowl LII.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    The nuggets of information about Ernie Adams were more valuable and interesting than the rest written about Coach Belichick. "That year Agase was a little surprised when he received in the mail, unsolicited, an unusual document, beautifully bound as if it were a college thesis." (41)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ian Simon

    This book gave me more positive feelings about football than actually watching football ever did.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ice

    Pulitzer-winning journalist and author Halberstam focuses on Bill Belichick, one of the NFL's most successful coaches, and the game of football as a team sport with rich detail, exacting research and colorful anecdotes. He reveals what fans of the head coach of the New England Patriots have always known: the roots of Belichick's coaching lie in the essential mentoring by his father, an excellent teacher and college coach who taught his son how to scout players and teams, instructing the author o Pulitzer-winning journalist and author Halberstam focuses on Bill Belichick, one of the NFL's most successful coaches, and the game of football as a team sport with rich detail, exacting research and colorful anecdotes. He reveals what fans of the head coach of the New England Patriots have always known: the roots of Belichick's coaching lie in the essential mentoring by his father, an excellent teacher and college coach who taught his son how to scout players and teams, instructing the author on how to study films of players when he was just nine years old. As an assistant coach working with Bill Parcells's New York Giants in the 1980s, Belichick's "football first" credo was born of precision and discipline. He went on to guide the Patriots to win three Super Bowls in four years (2002, 2004 and 2005). Halberstam brings to his seventh sports book an encyclopedic knowledge of football, a firm grasp on the inner workings of effective coaching, an understanding of the systematic roles of the players and a shrewd psychological analysis of Belichick himself as a man and team leader. His book reminds readers that "residence at the top [is:] as much a product of good fortune as it [is:] of talent, willpower and planning." Bill Belichick is the head coach of the New England Patriots and a second-generation descendant of a determined Croatian immigrant family. The Pats have won three of the last four Super Bowls, an extraordinary accomplishment in an NFL that is structured to prevent extended dominance by one team. Celebrated investigative journalist Halberstam, who likes to do a sports book now and then, was first drawn to Belichick when he was a young linebacker coach with the New York Giants in the mid-eighties. He tells Belichick's story as part of the larger context of his family's acclimation to America during the Depression, and he spends as much time on Belichick's high-school and college years as he does on his career as a professional coach. Belichick learned his trade early on (his father was a football coach, too) and began breaking down opponents' film when he was nine years old. The natural affinity for x's and o's meshed with a passion for the game and, as Halbertsam tells it, produced a brilliant tactician and an effective leader who draws from the styles of other coaches he has encountered in his career, from a my-way-or-the-highway high-school coach to Andover Academy's Steve Sorota, the quintessential player-empowering coach-as-teacher. As he's done in the past, Halberstam takes the classic sports-bio formula--one stellar performer's rise to the pinnacle of American sport--and transforms it into a nuance-rich story of individual triumph and social history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    I had the good fortune to have started this book only a week or two before the 'Spygate' scandal broke out, and it really provided some context into the whole situation for me. Belichick is a guy who will do anything to win, and it's not inconceivable that this is something he would do. That said, I do think he is an honorable man as well, and I don't think what he did was the dramatic mess it was made out to be. With great success comes the inevitable backlash, and that's what 'spygate' was, no I had the good fortune to have started this book only a week or two before the 'Spygate' scandal broke out, and it really provided some context into the whole situation for me. Belichick is a guy who will do anything to win, and it's not inconceivable that this is something he would do. That said, I do think he is an honorable man as well, and I don't think what he did was the dramatic mess it was made out to be. With great success comes the inevitable backlash, and that's what 'spygate' was, no different from Dane Cook being heckled all over the internet by the same folks who worshiped him a year earlier. Halberstam was a great writer, and this book shows his dedication to the details. We're given a heretofore unseen glimpse into the life and mind of possibly the greatest coach in football history, and it's clear how he came to be such. As a huge Patriots fan for my whole life, I thought I'd evaluated the Belichick era from every possible angle, and for someone like me, it was refreshing to see it on display from a new, deeper one. Fans of the Patriots can read the book and see certain Belichick 'tricks of the trade' such as faking an injury to stop the clock or slow another team's momentum, described from his early days as a Defensive Coordinator with the Giants, and then smile, remembering games such as the one in Indianapolis against the Colts in the regular season a few years back, where the Patriots benefited from a Willie McGinest 'injury' to slow the Colts' approach to the goal line, and then McGinest was the one to make the final tackle against Edgerrin James on 4th and Goal from the 1, sprinting to mid-field to celebrate the victory. In other words, Patriots fans will have a deeper appreciation for this book, but I think it can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates a good character study.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Roger DeBlanck

    Between 2002-2005 the New England Patriots football team accomplished the improbable: winning three Super Bowls in four years. David Halberstam’s book details how the franchise’s remarkable success rests largely in the hands of their coach, Bill Belichick. In this engaging biography, Halberstam traces the Belichick family ancestry and chronicles the upbringing of young Belichick under his revered father, Steve, a lifetime coach and gifted scout. Steve taught his son at the age of nine how to bec Between 2002-2005 the New England Patriots football team accomplished the improbable: winning three Super Bowls in four years. David Halberstam’s book details how the franchise’s remarkable success rests largely in the hands of their coach, Bill Belichick. In this engaging biography, Halberstam traces the Belichick family ancestry and chronicles the upbringing of young Belichick under his revered father, Steve, a lifetime coach and gifted scout. Steve taught his son at the age of nine how to become a studious disciple of the game by breaking down film and assembling a game plan to think like the other team. Halberstam probes Belichick’s uncharismatic coaching style to show how his scholarly intelligence of football have made him a great leader. Always an inscrutable figure, Belichick, however, prides himself on shunning the spotlight, trying to remain as anonymous and unadorned as possible. His passion for learning is matched only by his peerless work ethic, which has enabled him to create an atmosphere where players abandon their egos in favor of a role-playing system that produces championships teams. Proving that hard work and camaraderie surpass superior talent and strength, Belichick has assembled players committed to the very essence of team. This is a thoughtful book about a singularly driven and intensely devoted coach in an era where the limelight culture, the lucrative contracts, and the excessive egos of athletes too often pollute the team concept. Halberstam has captured Belichick’s life as a coach at the height of stardom. He is a leader who, nonetheless, values his privacy and wants no part of celebrity. The book’s storytelling is rich with insight, focusing throughout on Belichick’s growth as a champion.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    I have almost zero interest in football, but my faith in David Halberstam is so great that I got this. It’s an incredibly glowing biography of Patriots coach Bill Belichick that at time approaches hagiography. Part of that, no doubt, is because the Patriots’ Spygate scandal was only uncovered two years after the book was published. While well written and serious like all of Halberstam's works, it doesn’t come off as one of his best.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Taro Yamashita

    Biography of New England Patriots head coach, Bill Bellichick. The coverage seems pretty good for his very early years, but then lacks details once he gets a foothold in professional coaching. The book seems to have been written without the benefit of direct research involving Bellichick himself, and gets less and less interesting as the book progresses.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Darren

    I don't even watch football anymore, but Halberstam does such a great job of narrating the subtleties of being a professional coach, the strategies, the intrigues, that I was completely drawn into the narrative.

  12. 5 out of 5

    M. Newman

    This biography of Bill Belichik (whom, as I root for the Jets, I hate) is the best biography of a sports coach that I have ever read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Patdmac7

    Winter 2007 - (Steve) Belichick’s general defensive philosophy was simple: Find out what the other guys do best—which is what they always want to do, especially under pressure in a big game—take it away from them, and make them do things that they are uncomfortable with. 3 -You worked hard. You saved. You did not waste anything. If possible, you grew your own food. You did not complain. You did not expect anyone to do anything for you. Discipline was not so much taught as it was lived, as an essen Winter 2007 - (Steve) Belichick’s general defensive philosophy was simple: Find out what the other guys do best—which is what they always want to do, especially under pressure in a big game—take it away from them, and make them do things that they are uncomfortable with. 3 -You worked hard. You saved. You did not waste anything. If possible, you grew your own food. You did not complain. You did not expect anyone to do anything for you. Discipline was not so much taught as it was lived, as an essential part of life for which there was no alternative. 18 -He was about one thing only—coaching—and wary of anything that detracted from it, and in his mind, much of the modern media, especially television, did precisely that…Modern media created a Me-Me-Me world, whereas he insisted on a We world. 21 -His ego was exceptional, and it was reflected by his almost unique determination. He like being the best and wanted credit for being the best, a quiet kind of credit. But his ego was about the doing; it was fused into a larger purpose, that of his team winning. 21 -…the little details added up until they represented significant differences. 25 -There is no celebration of victory in the past—we’re all working for the next victory, the one yet to come….he doesn’t want the trappings of the past, doesn’t need them. He knows they lead to complacency. He doesn’t allow complacency. 26 -‘You are talking about someone who walks up and down a football field.’-Steve Belichick in response that his son, Bill, was a genius -Football Scouting Methods – Steve Belichick; “Scouting is essential to successful football coaching.” – Paul Brown -‘If you have to write it down, you don’t know it well enough.’ –Dr. Allen Gillingham 38 -Game plan in Super Bowl against Rams: Take away Marshall Faulk (Where is he? Where is he?) Slow the game down. Encourage the Rams to run (same with Bills – we will win if Thurman Thomas gets over 100 yards). Hit the receivers hard at the line, and hammer them when they caught the ball. Run the ball themselves, as successfully as they could, and thereby shorten the game. …Have WRs line up downfield to simulate speed – same with DL. 49 -The X’s and O’s are fine, but the Xs and Os don’t always work like they do on a chess board. The Xs don’t get to where they’re supposed to get to, and the Os turn out to be smarter than you thought. 49 -(Bill) Edwards did not coach through fear and intimidation, but through a certain optimism. He would tell his players what they needed to do and add that they could do it, that all they had to do was remember what they had been taught. He was not an emotional coach, and his pregame speeches did not seem to vary much. 64 -Each player, he felt, should go into a game feeling he had a distinct advantage over the player he was matched up against. 66 -…the world of football was one of great insecurity. In addition to the usual pitfalls—the injuries sustained by key players, the coveted recruits who went elsewhere, and the bad calls by referees…there were other forces, like politics. 69 -…anticipate the play and read it…The key…was to watch the center, for the center almost always told you so much: whether the play was a pass or run, and which way the play was going. 72 -(H)e not only saw the game as very few scouts did, but as he was seeing it, he understood it as very few scouts do. 72 -Have the punters practice the way they punt in games. Punt, and then take a fifteen minute break, and then punt, and then take another break. …Ideal punt time 2.0. Let them be. Keep it simple. 76 -…most scouts looked at other teams and thought that the most important thing was to find out what their weakness was, but the right way to do it was to search for their strengths and try to take that away from them, and make them do what they don’t want to do…82 -His power came from his intelligence, his subtlety, and his kindness, not from his position in the hierarchy. He coached through persuasion, not through orders and yelling. He would always, in a calm, low-key voice, explain to his players what they needed to do in a given game, and which part of their mission he expected them to figure out and execute on their own. 92 -He was very respectful of his players, and he understood how complicated life could be for a young man struggling through his teenage years, that the fact that a young man looked strong, and had a strong body, did not necessarily mean he was strong, that an adolescent boy was often dealing with all kinds of interior problems and pressures and doubts, almost all of them emotional, none of them readily visible to a coach. These were young men, who, despite their noisiness, and on occasion braggadocio, were still unsure of who they were. The job of a good coach was to encourage a boy’s better self, to let his confidence grow, but to do it ever so gently. 93 -…how aware he was that all of them deserved admiration for what they were doing, of how important he believed it was not to take any young person for granted. 94 -“sandbox” drill on Friday – unexpectedly find out hidden talents, but also about “letting football be fun, letting young men who work so hard at everything most of the time, both sports and schoolwork, enjoy themselves.” 95 -“they challenged you, challenged you to reach for more, to work harder than you thought you could and always to think for yourself.”98 -You have to buy into the entire thing. A lot of players come in, and they’ve played at a high level, and so they think they know everything, because they’ve played at big-time schools. But the truth is they don’t know very much at all, because the game is always changing and because the systems are always changing….you had to adapt game by game; he knew everything was always changing….You could always give him more—he always wanted more. He always wanted to get better. 110 -…the most important thing, he believed, the thing that in the end generated respect, was not necessarily a loud and commanding or threatening voice, but knowledge. Players respected coaches who could help them play better and who knew things they didn’t.114 -…empowering the players by giving them so much information, which allowed them to adapt game by game to what was coming. 116 -He always wanted to know not just if you knew what he had been talking about, but also if you understood what he had been talking about. 116 -…just because he could not play at a certain level did not mean that he could not coach there. 118 -“Do not try to be the players’ pal. It won’t work. They’ll screw you every time. …You’re here to coach them, and that often means telling them things they don’t want to hear about doing things they don’t want to do….The more you can help them, the better, and they’ll know it when it happens, and the other coaches will know it. …Authority is the only thing you have.” – Floyd Reese -…if you were going to coach defense, you had to master the offense as well, otherwise you were only half a coach. 126 -Oakland looked only for size and speed. Their players had to be big and fast. …the constancy of player evaluation. Most coaches stopped serious evaluation of their personnel on draft day—they chose their people, and that was that. But (Al) Davis never stopped evaluating his people—what they could do, what you could teach them, and what you couldn’t teach them. He made his coaches rate the players every day. Were they improving? Were they slipping? Who had practiced well? Who had gone ahead of whom in practice? The jobs the starters had were not held in perpetuity….they would have to challenge the players…no one could rest on what he had done in the past…it made you know your own personnel better, something teams did not always do…you kept your players alert by keeping your coaches alert. 129 -…feature players who knew their roles and understood that playing their role was more important than being a star. …the little things were not little things, because it was the accumulation of little things that made big things happen. 130 -…the key to success: It was in being organized; the more organized you were at all times, the more you knew at every minute what you were doing and why you were doing it, the less time you wasted and the better a coach you were. 131 -If they were going to lose, they were going to lose playing hard. 136 -In addition he thought it was the wrong way to go (reaching players emotionally), that it was too short-range, and that in the end you could only go to that emotional well so often, and then it went dry. What did fit his personality was the sum of his knowledge, being the best-prepared coach on the field. Players would do what he asked not because he was their pal, but because he could help them win and they came to believe in his abilities. 145 -They did not want to put their defense in a bad situation, and they did not want to wear it out. 146 -But the very sense that he had a choice made him feel better, indeed liberated him. …he had chosen his job, and the job had not entirely chosen him. 151 -‘hinge plays’ that swing games 160 -Poor play calling (power on short yardage to seal game) on (Seifert’s) part, a coaching mistake. It was too much of a finesse play, with the guard pulling. 168 -He did not want Jim Kelly throwing on every down. The Bills were less dangerous, he thought, given the superb abilities of the New York defense, if they went to their running game, which also had the advantage of taking more time off the clock. He thought that the Giants could stop Thurman Thomas, even though he was an exceptional back, if and when they needed to, because they were so good against the run. 172 -Keep same defensive formation and alignment but interchange LBs for DL, DBs for LBs as situation dictates. 174 -in the sixties, when marketing, soon to be one of the great growth areas of the NFL (and the American economy), was a small part of the package, and when producing things was more important than marketing and selling them. 179 -There are two sets of standards for the media in the world of sports, and the first rule is that a coach or player can get away with almost anything if he is winning. 181 -You can be right, but sometimes when you are right you are wrong, too. 191 -…they were willing to put aside their egos—that was rule number one—as he put aside his. 198 -…create a system and to play for the future as well as the present. 204 -‘The more you can do, the more you can do.’…if you did well, you would be rewarded with a good deal more work. 210 -Why wine them and dine them at fancy places, when we’re really meat and potatoes? 211 -…character and a willingness to fit into the system would be of the essence, not just ability. 211 -…on a real team, the kind of team he intended to create, the more senior, more experienced players enforced the coach’s concept of team by setting a certain example, working harder at practice and in the weight room than anyone else. 229 -CYA – Cover Your Ass theory of coaching – conservative, consensus decision to protect self from criticism 231 -Belichick was also aware of how fortune had smiled at critical moments, and how thin the line in making the playoffs really was, how easy it was to fail with the exact same team. 233 -Kirk Ferentz’s interview – two day marathon - run film of a drill, judge how well it went, clip of potential draft choice, evaluate him 237 -…of all the positions, offensive lineman was the one where you could take good, strong kids who were available in some of the lower draft rounds and, by dint of good teaching, mold them into first-rate offensive lineman. It was not technically a skill position, and it did not demand speed; rather it demanded size, strength, football intelligence, and a willingness to learn and work very hard. 238 -OL punt catching wager in two-a-days; if caught, no practice, if dropped, extra conditioning 241 -…it’s a team without an ego, all they want to do is win. 244 -don’t give up TD passes over 30 yards 245 -Your players wear down. Especially the defensive lineman, they’re the first to go. 246 -The two men were friends in the delicate sense of friendship that football coaches are allowed—in the we-may-be-on-opposite-sides-of-the-field-but-we-have-similar-problems-and-similar-enemies-and-we-may-need-each-other-yet-you-coaching-for-me-or-me-coaching-for-you kind of friendship. 247 -The virus of higher personal expectations (that comes with team success). –Jimmy Johnson 249 -Equally important, he made very few negative plays—he was rarely in the habit of beating himself. 256 -Show Cover Two, play Cover Four 257 -Pregame speech…emphasis on technical things they were supposed to do, the specifics of the game at hand…259 -Before Super Bowl, had players eat in locker room before game because of extended game (four instead of three). 260 -Cover Two in prevent situations: give some yards, but not too much too quickly 261 -…the pinnacle was the most dangerous of places, and the reigning champion the most endangered of species….You got to the pinnacle because you were very good, but also because you were lucky. 263 -…he had been preparing for more than two years (for departure of Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis), moving other good people into the slots right beneath them. 268 -attack the opposing team’s QB 269 -At press conferences he sometimes seems a little goofy and is often way too grim. But he is a leader without the swagger, selfishness, and pomposity that so many men in business, politics, and sports embrace as an entitlement of their gender and position. 270 -(Football) demanded, in the end, a totality of knowledge and experience, and the ability to assess human behavior, including your own. It also demanded a staggering amount of discipline. 271 -PB: The Paul Brown Story, The Future is Now, Parcells, Where Else Would You Rather Be?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Crowley

    It is a very rare gift to turn your hand from being a defining voice on foreign policy to writing truly great sports books. Possibly as difficult as winning 5 Super Bowls. In terms of achieving their own personal greatness, Halberstam and Belichick make a perfect match. Written in 2005, The Education of a Coach is not a simple biography of Belichick. It is first and foremost a Halberstam book – it jumps around in time and place, it digs deep into his family history and contains chapters that woul It is a very rare gift to turn your hand from being a defining voice on foreign policy to writing truly great sports books. Possibly as difficult as winning 5 Super Bowls. In terms of achieving their own personal greatness, Halberstam and Belichick make a perfect match. Written in 2005, The Education of a Coach is not a simple biography of Belichick. It is first and foremost a Halberstam book – it jumps around in time and place, it digs deep into his family history and contains chapters that would stand alone as superb and insightful magazine profile pieces. The title is apt – Halberstam primarily seeks to understand how Belichick was formed as a coach. Its a focus on a him as a person and coach with less discussion on the impact that Belichick had on the game of football than you might expect. What emerges is a portrait of a singular man who wants to be the best coach he can be. He emerges very much as his father’s son, having begun his education at a young age at his father’s side. Steve Belichick was a legendary scout and coach who proved the perfect role-model for his son. As Halberstam himself notes, it is a book about two journeys; the Belichick family’s journey into the centre of American life after their arrival from Croatia and Belichick’s own journey to the top in the world of professional football. Other key influences on Belichick were his friendships with fellow football obsessives, in particular his long time assistant coach Ernie Adams. Halberstam captures something that Belichick learned from each of the coaches he worked with. In particular, his complex relationship with Bill Parcells is analysed with the senior Bill emerging in my less favorable light. The book only begins to look at his success at the Patriots in the final 2/3rd’s – as by then Belichick had learned the lessons that would help him achieve such great things. It is a relatively short book – less ambitious in scope and length as Halberstam’s basketball masterpieces. As with all of Halberstam’s books, it is superbly well written, incredibly easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. It leaves with a real sense of a man obsessed with his sport and destined to be successful. Halberstam clearly likes his subject, but the book feels like a fair and honest telling of how Belichick became Belichick. It is hard to overstate the level of Belichick’s achievement. Its rare the coach (or person) that merits a significant biography who then continues to achieve great things for more than 13 years after that biography was published. In terms of seminal achievements, only Sir Alex Ferguson springs to mind. There is another great book to be written capturing the greatness of what Belichick has ultimately achieved at the Patriots. The Education of a Coach was published in 2005 after Belichick and the Patriots had won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. In an era where the sport was designed to prevent dynasties, the odds on the Patriots remaining at the top of their game post 2005 must have seemed low. Yet, as we all know, Belichick would go on to reach 5 more Super Bowls (so far), winning 2 of them. The Education of a Coach is a highly recommend starting point for anyone seeking to understand Belichick and the Patriots. Any recommendations on later books on Belichick would be greatly appreciated. And if you enjoy this, do seek out all of Halberstram’s other great books. You can read all of my sports book reviews at https://allsportsbooks.reviews

  15. 4 out of 5

    Len Knighton

    EDUCATION OF A COACH This was a difficult book to rate. I've read an enjoyed David Halberstam's books in the past and appreciated his writing. The literary world is not as full when one considers the books he might have written in the past ten years since his tragic death. However, the subject of this book, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, is not one of my favorite sports personalities. Indeed, he is near the bottom of the list. That being said, I have gained a bit more than a modicum o EDUCATION OF A COACH This was a difficult book to rate. I've read an enjoyed David Halberstam's books in the past and appreciated his writing. The literary world is not as full when one considers the books he might have written in the past ten years since his tragic death. However, the subject of this book, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, is not one of my favorite sports personalities. Indeed, he is near the bottom of the list. That being said, I have gained a bit more than a modicum of respect for Belichick. There is no question that he is a football genius and a great coach. He learned vital lessons from a myriad of sources. I particularly enjoyed the profiles of these friends, mentors, coaches, and his father. Halberstam focuses on people, not plays. In this book, that is a plus. A couple of minuses: The chapter on Belichick's tenure in Cleveland begins with some misinformation and a paragraph that does not give enough factual material. H... states that the Browns had not won a championship since the days of Paul Brown, over 30 years before B... In truth, they had won, under coach Blanton Collier, the 1964 NFL Championship, which was the last before the Super Bowl began. They reached the championship game the following year, losing to Green Bay, and in 1968 when the Baltimore Colts beat them 34-0. As of this writing, June 2017, the Browns and the Detroit Lions are the only teams that existed before the Super Bowl era to have never played in it. There was much furor when the Browns left for Baltimore before the 1996 season, contrasting Cleveland's support of the team against poor attendance at Colts games before their move to Indianapolis in March 1984. However, if Halberstam is correct, the fan base in Cleveland was a bit of smoke and mirrors. He wrote that season ticket sales were about 50% of stadium capacity. In the Colts heyday, theirs was close to 90%. Halberstam twice demonstrates Belichick's analytical skills in a way which might throw negative light on the coach. After a victory over St. Louis in one Super Bowl and prior to their beating Carolina in another, Belichick commented about the shortcomings of his team. In my opinion, that is a backhanded way of denigrating the opposition. The close of Chapter One sparks some dissent, twelve years after the publication of the book: "The Patriots are not necessarily America's Team, as Dallas had so optimistically nicknamed itself in an earlier era, but they are an easy team for ordinary football fans to like in the new era of football." It is hard to forget SPYGATE, which took place about half a year after Halberstam's death, or DEFLATEGATE, for which Tom Brady was suspended for four games. I wonder what Halberstam would think of Bill Belichick today. Five stars slightly waning.

  16. 4 out of 5

    David

    I had never read a Halberstam book and was looking forward to this given the accolades and was really surprised at the structure. It is essentially a linear storytelling from the time Belichick's grandparents come over from Croatia up through the third Super Bowl win in the year Halberstram was putting the book together. A linear storytelling sprinkled with Halberstam's insights, I guess. Here are a few things I learned: * Belichick's dad was a coach * Belichick was and is obsessed with football * I had never read a Halberstam book and was looking forward to this given the accolades and was really surprised at the structure. It is essentially a linear storytelling from the time Belichick's grandparents come over from Croatia up through the third Super Bowl win in the year Halberstram was putting the book together. A linear storytelling sprinkled with Halberstam's insights, I guess. Here are a few things I learned: * Belichick's dad was a coach * Belichick was and is obsessed with football * Belichick is really, really good at breaking down film * Belichick works harder than most * Brady over Bledsoe was THE decision that made Belichick's career * There is a big coach's network Unfortunately, the first half of the book is a snoozer with what I'd consider to be pretty lazy and platitudinal writing, like this: "The only law that seemed to apply to Cleveland was Murphy's Law: Everything that could go wrong did go wrong." (179) Thanks for that. The narrative starts to hum when Bill Parcells shows up. Some of the material therein is interesting, and I would just say that Belichick emerges from this narrative in a lot better shape than Parcells does. I wonder why? So, am I supposed to just take Halberstam's word for all of this? He makes some spectacular calls, including the stuff about Brady and Nick Saban. Indeed, Belichick comes off as some sort of robot genius rooted in humility. There isn't a single hint that he would be someone who had a salacious affair, or was involved in repeated incidents of cheating that were so potentially damaging to the league that the commissioner ordered the destruction of the evidence. I actually was reading Gladwell's *Talking to Strangers* as I was reading through this and I guess that would make me think I wouldn't necessarily take any of the interviewees material at face value, particularly that of a robot genius. If you remember, Belichick didn't think he was doing anything wrong in all of that. Maybe I'll go Google to see if Halberstam ever weighed in on that.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Read this book to get some insights into how Belichick's coaching/leadership philosophy. The went into too much depth into side characters and needless background for my taste. But a few takeaways: 1) Being prepared - Belichick does extremely thorough homework about his opponents, in fact he's known for his film study even when he became head coach. He also applies the same rigorous analysis to his own players, taking care to know their strengths and weaknesses so he can value them correctly and Read this book to get some insights into how Belichick's coaching/leadership philosophy. The went into too much depth into side characters and needless background for my taste. But a few takeaways: 1) Being prepared - Belichick does extremely thorough homework about his opponents, in fact he's known for his film study even when he became head coach. He also applies the same rigorous analysis to his own players, taking care to know their strengths and weaknesses so he can value them correctly and use them in the right situations. 2) No one is above the team - during his first HC gig in Cleveland, Belichick made the mistake of appeasing some of his star players and letting them skirt the rules. This, among other things, lost him respect and contributes to his failure there. There can be no special treatment for stars. Also, Belichick found that it's much better to have a team of good players (spread the wealth around) rather than over-invest in a few stars. Personally I think football is a weak-link sport (your weakest player can drag you down) except for your QB, so Belichick is right. 3) Invest in people - Belichick would is really cheap in keeping the salary of his assistants low, but invested heavily in their learning. This weeded out everyone other than the passionate, and also developed his network. Today, so many coaches in the college and pro ranks are from his coaching tree, which gives him a ton of insights in players through all levels. 4) Public relations is important - Belichick's tenure in Cleveland was disastrous partly because he antagonized the media and fanbase early on. Even though he was "doing the right thing for the team", he wasn't able to persuade others of this. Appearance and narrative is important. 5) Choose your boss - Another lesson from Cleveland, the owner there just didn't fit Belichick's style and didn't share his philosophy. When the NE opportunity came up, Belichick made sure that he and Craft have shared philosophies and developed mutual trust early on.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Bill Belichick is the best NFL coach of all time; and Halberstam shows you why. It's a trip through his pedigree, starting with his father Steve, a legendary scout and coach. It follows Belichick through his journey as a young coach, highlighting the lessons learned along the way to the pinnacle of the NFL. The lessons are simple and apply far beyond football. 1. Preparation. Hours and hours of film study made Belichick more prepared than his opponents. Careful, focused study allowed him to know w Bill Belichick is the best NFL coach of all time; and Halberstam shows you why. It's a trip through his pedigree, starting with his father Steve, a legendary scout and coach. It follows Belichick through his journey as a young coach, highlighting the lessons learned along the way to the pinnacle of the NFL. The lessons are simple and apply far beyond football. 1. Preparation. Hours and hours of film study made Belichick more prepared than his opponents. Careful, focused study allowed him to know what was going to happen before it did. 2. Do your job. While he is exceptionally prepared, B also was masterful in keeping his players focused on the simple, concrete task in front of them. Don't try to do too much. You can't win the whole game on one play. A team with each man doing his job and no more is unstoppable. 3. Fit beats talent. Sometimes the player with the proper attitude and mindset can succeed where a more talented but mentally weaker player will fail. 4. Take away their strength. Most coaches and scouts will find what is weak on their opponent and attack that. Belichick finds it far more useful to figure out their strength and then take that away. It throws off their rhythm and timing. Bush did the same thing to Kerry in 2004. His veteran/hero status was his primary strength until the swift boat ads. Without the central pillar to stand on, collapse is inevitable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark Gandy

    I listened to the Audible version (solid narration), so I was not able to take notes. First, I'm not a Patriots fan, but I don't dislike them either. Accordingly, I liked this account of Belichick. I had an idea of the man's intelligence as I read a few months earlier, Gridiron Genious by Michael Lombardi. What to Expect + We learn about the integrity and work ethic of his father growing up who was also a coach (I had no idea). + We learn that yes, Belichick, played the game in high school and colle I listened to the Audible version (solid narration), so I was not able to take notes. First, I'm not a Patriots fan, but I don't dislike them either. Accordingly, I liked this account of Belichick. I had an idea of the man's intelligence as I read a few months earlier, Gridiron Genious by Michael Lombardi. What to Expect + We learn about the integrity and work ethic of his father growing up who was also a coach (I had no idea). + We learn that yes, Belichick, played the game in high school and college, but he wasn't that good. + He was great at breaking down games at a very young age. He loved doing film work--not a burden to him at all. That carried over in his first years as a young NFL assistant. + He once worked for free in the NFL. + The Browns job was a no-win situation. + Working for Bill Parcells - oh my gosh, where do I begin? Talk about the Odd Couple of the NFL. + The rest of the book is his time as the Patriots coach. It concludes after their 3rd Superbowl victory. Great book, great insights. Patriots fans should love this book. Football fans should. As a business person, I found the last half intriguing as much of the strategy carries over to the commercial world. Yep, 5 stars on this one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Goldfuss

    Many reasons I enjoyed this book: * David Halberstam writes brilliantly and masterfully crafts facts into a story. I love his thought process and connections that he makes. * I have had an appetite for the science and history behind team football. I absolutely loved this year's past super bowl where ironically, the Pats played a hard, old school style to beat the Rams (2019). I am fascinated by the idea of Belickick creating a team first dynasty in a sports era surrounding individual performances, Many reasons I enjoyed this book: * David Halberstam writes brilliantly and masterfully crafts facts into a story. I love his thought process and connections that he makes. * I have had an appetite for the science and history behind team football. I absolutely loved this year's past super bowl where ironically, the Pats played a hard, old school style to beat the Rams (2019). I am fascinated by the idea of Belickick creating a team first dynasty in a sports era surrounding individual performances, egos, and money. * The parallel connections between Steve Belichick and his son Bill showed the connection and history that I thought was interesting. It reminded me of the way The Godfather story is told between Don Vito Corleone and Michael Corleone. (Not that I'm saying Bill Belicheck is Michael Corleone, but the Halberstam outlined the story in a very engaging way. * Being a Browns fan (I know, it's rough!), the chapter on Bill's interaction with Art Modell gave me a better understanding of the history cursing poor Browns fans. I admire Bill Belicheck's determination and hard working spirit. The old school style of play is something that I love. The David Halberstam style read is read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marcy Guenette

    Audio book: 2 listeners here, therefore, 2 opinions and 4 stars from each but for different reasons. Listener #1 is my husband, avid football fan, and especially for the Patriots - by far his favorite team. This story brought back many memories of games watched and fretted over, and of players and coaches no longer around. Listener #2 is me, avid reader and not much of a sports fan. My roots are in New England so by default I'll root for NE teams over others. I found the Belichick family story v Audio book: 2 listeners here, therefore, 2 opinions and 4 stars from each but for different reasons. Listener #1 is my husband, avid football fan, and especially for the Patriots - by far his favorite team. This story brought back many memories of games watched and fretted over, and of players and coaches no longer around. Listener #2 is me, avid reader and not much of a sports fan. My roots are in New England so by default I'll root for NE teams over others. I found the Belichick family story very interesting- both father Steve and son Bill. David Haberstam is a talented writer. Published. In 2005, this book is now 13 years old. The story herein stops before the devastating injury to Tom Brady in the opening game of the 2005 which kept him out for the entire NFL season. In a sport known for major personnel turnovers, both Belichick and Brady are still going strong 13 years later. Volume II is now warranted to continue the story of the remarkable careers of both men.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Writemoves

    How did Bill Bellicheck get to be the premier football coach of all time? This book looks at his early experiences and development with other NFL teams before he became coach of the New England Patriots. Bellicheck turns out to be extremely focused, organized and an excellent evaluator of football talent. It also helps that his quarterback Tom Brady may be the best at his position for all time. The author also looks at Bellicheck’s coaching stint with the Cleveland Browns, which was a bit rocky. How did Bill Bellicheck get to be the premier football coach of all time? This book looks at his early experiences and development with other NFL teams before he became coach of the New England Patriots. Bellicheck turns out to be extremely focused, organized and an excellent evaluator of football talent. It also helps that his quarterback Tom Brady may be the best at his position for all time. The author also looks at Bellicheck’s coaching stint with the Cleveland Browns, which was a bit rocky. He also served as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants under Bill Parcells, not exactly an easy job or an easy mentor. Bellicheck’s goal was not to be liked but to be respected. Given his successful coaching record in various Super Bowl wins, he has earned respect among the NFL players, fans and management. Excellent sports book about an interesting sports character. G

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I started this book months ago! I was reading it as an ebook at night and would make it through three or four pages before I started nodding off. I made it to chapter 9 that way. I started listening to the audiobook at chapter 7 and it is going much quicker now. I was able to listen to the rest of the book over two work days and it went much better! Once I got to Bill-in-Cleveland the book picked up for me. I was more familiar with the cast and had a base knowledge. It was still great to hear all I started this book months ago! I was reading it as an ebook at night and would make it through three or four pages before I started nodding off. I made it to chapter 9 that way. I started listening to the audiobook at chapter 7 and it is going much quicker now. I was able to listen to the rest of the book over two work days and it went much better! Once I got to Bill-in-Cleveland the book picked up for me. I was more familiar with the cast and had a base knowledge. It was still great to hear all of that glory again. I would love to see a postscript added for the 12 years since the book was published. Surely we'll get one once he retires.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Deacon James

    Love him or hate him, you have to respect what Bill Belichick has accomplished in his career. This book is an incredible account of where Coach Belichick came from, what drove him, and what it took to achieve success in the NFL. It's a fascinating read, from his early days studying film in Indianapolis, his successes with Bill Parcells in New York, and his failures in Cleveland, up until his third Super Bowl win in the 2004 season. Without a doubt, he's the greatest NFL coach of all time, and st Love him or hate him, you have to respect what Bill Belichick has accomplished in his career. This book is an incredible account of where Coach Belichick came from, what drove him, and what it took to achieve success in the NFL. It's a fascinating read, from his early days studying film in Indianapolis, his successes with Bill Parcells in New York, and his failures in Cleveland, up until his third Super Bowl win in the 2004 season. Without a doubt, he's the greatest NFL coach of all time, and studying his story is a great lesson for all leaders.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Tough book to rate. Really enjoyed the Ernie Adams insights and Patriots gushing, but the coverage of Parcells v. Belichick felt especially superficial. Halberstam unfailingly lauds BB’s approach to personnel even when a more critical analysis is called for, particularly during Coach’s tenure with the Browns. Nevertheless, I do feel it’s a book that even non-football fans could enjoy in that Coach is such a fascinating character study.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rdurie

    Good read about an NFL coach. At times I found the chronology a bit hard to follow. Also for me, an Aussie who follows the NFL closely, it would have been helpful if he explained the tactics and formations in a bit more depth. I found myself going to Wikipedia a lot for terms like single wing, cover 2, cover 4 etc. now for a book about the 49rs thank you, Mr Halberstam.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andy Klein

    Zzzzzzzzzzz. A boring sports bio. No doubt Belichick is the greatest NFL coach. But his story is decidedly uninteresting. Smarts and endless hard work shaped him. That’s it. And the book would have been better if it came a year later when the author would have had no choice but to discuss Belichick’s outrageous cheating - spygate.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wes F

    Loved this look at Coach Belichick's life history in regards to his incredible football sense, prowess, & practices. He has proven to be the best football coach...ever. And he's humble enough to just keep on working and looking forward to next week's game and everything needed to get everyone focused on doing their job, in order to be successful. Library ebook.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Luke Hilgers

    I found the back story of Bill to be quite entertaining however later in the book as it progressed season by season the narrative from one season to the next seemed cyclical and I started to lose interest.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ben Kester

    A page turner from cover to cover. It's hard not to root for a nerd taking over the macho sport. BB does have flaws which were ignored in the bio. Sometimes with an excellent story, you don't care that you missed out on gory details.

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