Book Review: War Room by Michael Holley

In which I read my first ever sports book - and love it! This review was originally published in the November 18, 2011 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. Reprinted here with permission. If you don't already receive bi-weekly issues of Shelf Awareness in your inbox, fix that by registering here.

Most football fans are aware that Bill Belichick does things a little differently--the head coach of the New England Patriots is known for his one-word press conferences and sleeveless hoodies. Behind this seemingly uncommunicative character, however, lies a man passionate about football and the art of team-building. In War Room, sportswriter Michael Holley (Patriot Reign) gives readers a glimpse of his character and the legacy he has begun to create.

As early as 1991, while working with the Cleveland Browns, Belichick had a revolutionary vision for scouting players. As he advanced in his career, he refined a system of scouting and drafting unlike any other, aided by two young protégés, Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli (now head coaches of the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively). War Room explores the details of that scouting system, as well as the lives, relationships and careers of the three men, all of whom live and breathe football, football, football.

Though War Room tends to be overburdened by facts, names and dates that can prove challenging to a novice football fan, the passion for the sport evident in Holley's writing, mirroring that of his subjects, is a saving grace. In understanding the heart of the game--the team, and the art of building it--fans at every level of intensity will come to appreciate the careful thought and execution it takes to create the teams we root for year after year. And next year, we’ll all have a bit more strategy for our fantasy drafts.

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