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The Education of a Coach Paperback – Aug 8 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1 edition (Aug. 8 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401308791
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401308797
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With the snappy delivery of a play-by-play commentator, Conger ably performs Halberstam's reverent biography of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Chronicling Belichick's tutelage at the hands of his sharp college coach father, Halberstam moves through Belichick's trail of internships and promotions, augmenting his narrative with engaging anecdotes and succinct illustrations of the tactical genius that propelled him through the ranks of the NFL. Conger doesn't have to stretch much in terms of characterization; he's simply a good choice for the project, with a smart, clean delivery that goes just as well with a description of a tender exchange between Belichick and his father as it does with a detailed breakdown of the Patriots' unorthodox defensive strategy in the Super Bowl. The production's one shortcoming is the strange choice of musical snippets for the beginnings and endings of different sections. None of the widely varied music fits in very well with the reading and proves to be much more of a puzzling distraction than an effective accompaniment. Still, it's not enough to overshadow an engrossing portrait of one of the NFL's best coaches, or a reading that hits just the right note.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Gingerich on March 5 2007
Format: Hardcover
Whether it's business or football you can always learn something from a Winner. Bill Belichick is a winner.

This is not a simple "How To" book. Halberstam is too good an author for mere outline. From his heritage, through his youth to his evolution as a head coach in the NFL Halberstam details Belichick's environment and the development of Belichick's philosophy or strategy that he brings to the game of football.

Belichick studied game films hard. He put in extra hours. He became and expert in his field. He understood the importance of being organized, networked and professional in everything you do. Belichick is a master at thoroughly researching and understanding your opponent before beating them. While this book is a great sports read .... dig a little bit deeper and you have a great how to succeed in business book on your hands here.

A must read for anyone who likes to win.

The only shortcoming from the book was that I was hoping to hear a little bit more from Belichick the man himself ... Perhaps more first hand accounts of his low points (being fired at Cleveland) to his successes (first Super Bowl win over the Rams). Nonetheless, a great read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 127 reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
What drives Bill Belichick Nov. 25 2005
By Mark Twain - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Halberstam does a nice job explaining how Bill Belichick became a great coach and what drives him. In light of the passing Bill's father Steve, this book is a tribute to his father, a great coach and strategist and what Bill picked up from his father on how to win. Most people think of Bill Belichick as part of a Bill Parcells coaching tree. But this book explains that Belichick is the Paul Brown to Parcells' Lombardi and how Belichick built relationships and learned to build an organization on his way to becoming a coach that wins games by breaking down an opponent as opposed to imposing his will on the opposition.

I would have given the book another star had it gone more into Belichick's personality. But Halberstam told sportsradio WEEI hosts that Belichick did not want this book to be about an ego trip for him. It's too bad because Halberstam never caught Belichick with his guard down. You have to think that Belichick really doesn't want anyone in the public to know him too well. It's almost as if there is an ending waiting be written. You don't find out about Belichick's relationships with Charlie Weis, Tom Brady, Bob Kraft, et al.

Still, it's a great read. You do get enough to understand the contempt Belichick has for Art Modell and an understanding of why he left the Jets and Bill Parcells to go to New England. His decisions, his confidantes, his championships all make sense after you read this book.
49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating, if incomplete, look at a great coach Nov. 14 2005
By Craig - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Considering the oustanding work Halberstam had done with The Teammates and Summer of '49, I was highly anticipating this release since first hearing of it months ago. And while it turned out be enjoyable, I just feel like there's so much more that could have been explored or explained.

The first part of the book dealing with Bill's dad, Steve, was the part that I found the most interesting. I knew that he's always been considered a superior scout, but it was great to see how he got to that point. Same goes for Bill's entry into the coaching ranks, and the preparation he did even before then to make himself into the great coach he would eventually become.

Where the book fails, in my opinion, is in its exploration of relationships. It talks somewhat of the Parcells-Belichick relationship, but there seems to be a lot left unspoken. Same with that of Parcells and Kraft, or Belichick and his current coaches, or even guys like Weis and Crennel who only recently left.

Halberstam has given what I believe is a look at only one slice of Belichick's life, and there still seems to be room for a more complete look at this great coach. I'd like to hear more first-person comments from other coaches, former coworkers, and current or former players.

I definitely recommend this book, both for the look at Belichick and because Halberstam is a pleasure to read. However, don't expect to learn much about the coach himself, as that will likely be left for another book.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Belichick, Parcells, Leadership Development, The NFL and More Jan. 14 2007
By Thomas M. Loarie - Published on
Verified Purchase
One of today's great authors, David Halberstam, has written a gem of a book detailing the `process of becoming Bill Belichick,' one of the best football minds ever in the National Football League (NFL). Belichick is the head coach of the New England Patriots NFL team and the winner of three Super Bowls.

Halberstam tells us that Belichick entered the world as the son of a lifer. He was the son of former Navy football coach and scout, Steve Belichick, who was once considered the preeminent football scout in the country. His father, however, never made much money and never enjoyed much fame outside the "hermetically sealed" world of coaching. And he lived (as did the family) with the special uncertainty of a coach - a world without guarantees. Steve felt the job of a good coach was to encourage a boy's better self, to let his confidence grow and to do it ever so gently.

Bill Belichick, well beyond his years in understanding football, went on to Weslyan, a small college in New England. While he played football, he had difficulty, as his size and lack of speed worked against him. He also played lacrosse and enjoyed it immensely, mostly because he admired the coach. The coach had no real knowledge of the game but knew exactly how to handle his players and how to listen to them and use them well. He learned then that players respected coaches who could help them play better and who knew things they did not know. Respect did not flow from a loud and commanding voice, but rather knowledge.

"The Education of a Coach" also details Belichick's early years in the NFL. When he entered the league, he had been a young man teaching older men. He needed to prove to them he was an authority figure so he remained more aloof and more authoritarian than most coaches or teachers working their first jobs. And since he was not imposing in physical terms, he would have to make up for his size by dint of willpower. He was most comfortable with a stern game face - being serious and completely disciplined. Many wondered if there was a time when Belichick ever laughed and relaxed.

Over the years, the back-channel word on Belichick was that he was a brilliant coordinator but doomed to be that and nothing more. When he got the New England head coach position, Belichick knew that this might be his last best chance.

Halberstam details key relationships and turning points in Belichick's career including the complicated relationship he had with Bill Parcells, one that was beneficial but different for both men; a defining moment with the Giants Gary Jeter when Jeter issued a challenge to a young Belichick, with Belichick granting his wish to Jeter's regret; the impact of Al Davis' rating players everyday to keep both players and coaches alert allowing no one to rest on the past; and many of uncommonly talented men who had been wonderful teachers.

Belichick is driven by brain power and by his fascination with the challenge that pro football represented to the mind of the coach as well as the bodies of the players. And, along the way, Belichick, a lifer, has always understood and taught that residence at top was a product of good fortune as well as talent, planning and willpower.

Those interested in Bill Belichick, the emergence of the New England Patriots as a NFL powerhouse, leadership development, or professional football will thoroughly enjoy "The Education of a Coach." Halberstam captures this and more.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A disappointment June 7 2006
By Paul Wiseman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
David Halberstam is one of America's finest journalists. But he's not on top of his game here. A pity: The Bill Belichick story is amazing. The New England Pariots coach has defied the zeitgeist and put together a genuine team at a time when sports are dominated by superstar egos. He has built a dynasty in an era of tepid parity - when last season's Super Bowl contender is gutted by free-agency and misses this season's playoffs. He is bold and innovative in a sport where most coaches favor cover-your-butt tactics. As an Indianapolis Colts fan, heartbroken almost annually by Belichick's genius, I was looking forward to learning how he does it. And Halberstam (whose The Breaks of the Game is my favorite sports book) seemed the right choice to tell the story. But "The Education of a Coach" fell well short of my expectations. Halberstam skims the surface instead of digging deep and sometimes makes odd authorial decisions. In writing about Belichick's disastrous tenure as Cleveland Browns coach and his unpopular decision to bench QB Bernie Kosar, for instance, Halberstam neglects even to tell which quarterback replaced Kosar. And yet he feels it necessary earlier in the book to take a gratuitous swipe at a 1950s Nashville Tennessean sports columnist whose role in the Belichick saga is peripheral at best. He barely mentions key characters such as Belichick assistants Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis - and touches only briefly on the young acolytes who are graduates of "Belichick University." Throughout part of the book, Halberstam cuts back and forth between the story of Bill Belichick and the story of his father, a legendary coach and scout in his own right. But the time-fractured narrative is confusing and repetitive. Sometimes you get the sense that Halberstam doesn't really understand football. An anecdote about a "chop block", for instance, is almost incomprehensible and made me wonder if Halberstam knew what he was talking about. There's still plenty to like here. I especially enjoyed a mini-profile of Belichick's buddy and assistant Ernie Adams - a true football nerd (like Belichick) who as a teenager once barged into an opposing high school team's locker room after a game (still in uniform) to get the coach to autograph a copy of "Simplified Single Wing Football.'' Bill Parcells emerges, as I long suspected, as a complete (but talented) jerk, whose relationship with Belichick was painful but mutually beneficial. Halberstam also does a good job describing the treacherous politics of coaching football - and how even the best coaches can be undone by events over which they have no control. Overall, this book gives you a good general idea what makes Bilichick so successful. What's missing are the detailed anecdotes and authoritative writing that usually are Halberstam trademarks.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Super Genius Jan. 25 2007
By Elderkin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I don't normally read biographies of recent championship winning coaches because usually they are puff pieces to allow the coach to cash in while he is still hot. When I saw that this book was written by David Halberstam however, I decided to risk it. To mix metaphors, this was certainly not a home run for Halberstam. My main criticism of the book is that Halberstam seemed to fall in love with Belichick and portray him as a super genius even from his earliest coaching days. This grows tiresome quickly. The back story about Belichick's father is interesting but he too is portrayed as some football savant. There is very little to balance the love-fest, but fortunately the book is well written, as you would expect from Halberstam, and short enough to hold your attention.