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The Education of a Coach

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. Now in paperback, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Halberstam's bestseller takes you inside the football genius of Bill Belichick for an insightful profile in leadership With a new afterword by the...

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Belichick, Parcells, Leadership Development, The NFL and More

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

One of the best writers in America does it again!!!

This is the same author that wrote the "Best and the Brightest", a book that I read decades ago, that is even more compelling today in view of our country being stuck in Iraq, which is not all that different than Viet Nam. That book was the story of the men that John F. Kennedy chose to accompany him on that magnificent journey of a 1000 days, a journey that ended in the sad destruction of Lyndon Johnson's administration. Whatever subject Halberstam chooses to write about becomes compelling after reading just a few lines of the book. Here he tackles the subject of Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, and how this man has created a sports dynasty in an age where all the rules were designed to discourage such a creation. The author's words flow like poetry. Even if you are uninterested in the subject of the book, it is still compelling. There are a number of reasons to read a book like this, which may be far removed from your own area of expertise, and even normal interest. Great learning sometimes involves people going outside their expertise. In doing so, it can make for great discoveries, and finding a fascinating idea or concept that a person would never think of for themselves in their daily work. Whether that work is being a Nobel Prize winning researcher in string theory, or a gent that builds cars, the bottomline always seems to be the same. These people can then bring these new ideas, and learnings into their own circle of competence, and appropriate it for what it is they are doing on a daily basis. In this book, you learn about getting the edge on your fellow competitors. You learn about dedication, focus, and execution. We may talk about execution in business, but in business or government, it might take years before you know the results of the project you are working on. Not so in the world of sports. You make an adjustment on a football team like Coach Belichick, and you might know in 30 seconds if you look STUPID. Usually wherever I am I have a selection of books with me. I read on average, about a book a day. Fortunately, my work allows me this luxury. Actually when I think about it, I am better at my work for the reading than if I did something else. This is probably true for you also. We read because we are compelled to read. I read the Education of a Coach while flying cross-country, and literally couldn't put it down, that's how Halberstam GRABS you as a reader. What is absolutely fascinating to me is Coach Belichick learning at his father's knee about football. The father was a scout who really did not make it as far as he should have in the world of football. He did have a studious and willing son who is the subject of this book. The child was desirous of learning everything his father could teach him. I am reminded in many ways of the relationship that Tiger Woods had with his own father. Just listen to a few words that Halberstam writes of the values that the father instilled in the son, "You

Solid profile of a private man

Belichick is one of the most private, guarded sports celebrities, and it seems logical that it would take a writer of Halberstam's credentials to get him to open up in the least. While Belichick doesn't appear to give the author a lot of direct material, the master reporter goes out and gets it, covering Belichick's early life, his time as a high school and college player, and then his rise from a Colts assistant who studied film and wasn't paid for it, to the heights he's achieved now. Along the way, Belichick learns the lessons that make him such an effective coach. From his father, a Navy assistant coach, he gained an appreciation for hard work and an understanding that coaching was largely an unglamorous profession, but those with a passion for the game would get their own reward from it. He also learned to study film -- playing it back again and again to see a greater view of the game. From his high school football coach, he learned that the coach needed to be an authority figure, lest he lose the respect of his team. From his prep school coach, he learned how to balance a roster and bring new players into the fold (Andover had four-year students mixing with one-year, postgraduates on its team each year). He learned how to handle different types of personalities. In college, he honed his skills at critical thinking and problem solving at Wesleyan University (a rival of my alma mater, Bowdoin). And on his ride through the NFL, he learned that he could be himself, a passionate and intelligent man, and players would respect him for it and realize that he would help them be successful. Ironically, Belichick seemed to gain the least from the man whom he worked with the longest, Bill Parcells. The two had complementary skills and temperaments, but mostly each realized he needed the other for success. It was a professional relationship and it eventually had to end. Belichick learned how to be a head coach the hard way in Cleveland, where he struggled, and then ultimately succeeded in New England, where he has a supportive, smart owner, a protege in player personnel and several among his assistants, a team cast in his image, and a quarterback who shares his burning desire to win and be a team player. Somehow I can't help but think there's more to be written, because Belichick is so reticent. But this book is a quick read and a fun one. I highly recommend it.

Belichick and Halberstam go together like nuts and gum

First of all, a personal note: as someone who's been watching the Patriots religiously since age 11 (the not-so-glorious, mercifully short-lived Rod Rust era), I probably can't lay much of a claim to objectivity when reviewing this book. But, I'm going to try it anyway, so you may want to consider the source. Now, that having been said, David Halberstam's The Education of a Coach is one monstrously enjoyable and interesting read. Centering around current New England Patriots coach and three-time Super Bowl champ Bill Belichick, it's not so much a biography as an examination of what's propelled one man to the top of the notoriously difficult profession of football coaching. Halberstam hasn't set himself an easy task, as The Education of a Coach is a book about a football coach that clearly aims for a much larger audience than fans of the sport--hardcore football freaks will occasionally have to put up with explanations of relatively basic concepts like blitzing--but it's still worth reading for all the insight that Halberstam brings to his subject. He's not so much examining the nuts and bolts of football, as there are plenty of books you can already turn to for that; nor is Halberstam aiming to provide a complete summation of Belichik's life in the sport, as several years of his career (notably his tenure with the Jets) are more or less glossed over. Rather, what Halberstam is going for is a view of the qualities that allowed Bill Belichick--who never played professional football and had a mediocre stint as coach of the Cleveland Browns before taking the Patriots' head job--to succeed where so many other smart and dedicated men had failed. One of the best qualities of Halberstam's sportswriting is his ability put everything he writes about into some sort of larger context, and The Education of a Coach is no exception. By now, everyone who's paid attention knows that Belichick's father Steve had a profound influence on his son's career path, so the book starts in Steve's formative years, allowing the reader to get an idea of the experiences and ideals he passed along to Bill. There are sketches of some of the other key players in Belichick's coaching life as well--longtime assistant Ernie Adams, Giants mentor Ray Perkins, and of course Bill Parcells and Tom Brady most notably--but again, all of the biographical details feed into the larger purpose of illuminating the harsh realities of modern-day pro football and the staggering demands placed on its coaches. Football, especially now, and especially at the professional level, is a game of contrasts: the influx of black athletes starting about fifty years ago and intensifying since has made the sport faster, tougher, and harder-hitting, but at the same time it's acquired a level of sophistication that would've been inconceivable back in the days when football was little more than a glorified brawl. Pro football is now in an age where 300 pounds isn't even considered heavy at some positions

An Homage To The Man And To The Game

5+ stars Joan Vennochi, a political writer who rarely writes about sports said this of Bill Belichick. "Belichick, she noted, wasn't 'glib or glitzy'. At press conferences he sometime 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 posture." This is not just a book about a man, or just about a coach, or just about a game, or just about football. This is a book about a man, who is a coach, who happens to love football, and the manner in which this man leads his life. David Halberstam, who has written his twentieth book, the last fourteen of which have been best sellers; and the last six, based on sports, has written the coach's coach book in "The Education of a Coach". He has been able to dig deep inside of this man, Bill Belichick. The man who has come to be known as the best professional football coach of our era. And, the fact, that this man coaches the New England Patriots, is the icing on my cake. Bill Belichick is the son of a man who is known as one of the best football scouts of his time. Steve Belichick has molded his son to not only follow in his footsteps, but to lead the way. Steve taught his son to break down a football film so acutely that he knows, understands, and can recite to memory every play made in that game or any game. Bill grew up loving the game of football. He went on to Andover where he met his best friend, Ernie Adams, who, to this day works with Belichick. Together, they have the bid on the history of and every play ever made in football. Why is this important? Because you can pick apart every mistake and every nuance of the opposing team. That is one method Belichick uses in his winning team. The Rams/Patriots game that won the Patriots their Super bowl, was according to ESPN's Ron Jarowski, the best coached game he has ever seen. "Belichick, he goes on to say, is the best in the game today, maybe the best ever". Belichick is known as a quiet man, too quiet, not at all flamboyant. Dressing in gray, trying to be as private as he can be. Difficult, as the media first thought. Hard to draw out. A star who did not want to be a star. Unfortunately, 40 million people wanted to know all about him, and the team he coached. His life is football, and he dedicates most of his waking hours to that job. He has his best friends as his coaches. They are the `Best and The Brightest', as the author of this book would so eloquently say. In 2005 Bill Belichick and his wife quietly separated after more than 20 years of marriage. They have three children whom Belichick loves and spends as much time with as possible. But somewhere, the game of football became too much for the family and now Bill is alone. Known as the best football coach in this time, compared to Lombardi and Landry, his name will go down in history. David Halberstam has brought knowledge and the power
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