The New England Dynasty
The New England Patriots are often referred to as what the sports world calls a “dynasty”. The word dynasty typically refers to a line or succession of kings, or more simply, “a line of hereditary rulers in a country.” In sports, the term is used to describe a similar way. When a team repeatedly wins championships and continues to show dominant success within a league over a span of several years, they are referred to as a dynasty. Some of the more famous sports dynasties include the San Fransisco 49ers of the ’80s, the New York Yankees, and, of course, the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the ’90s.
The Patriots have been considered a dynasty ever since the early 2000’s when the famous respective quarterback/coach combo Tom Brady and Bill Belichick took over. The team won the Super Bowl 3 out of 4 seasons during the 2001-2004 span, and has more recently won 2 of the last 3 (with two more Super Bowl appearances in the in-between years). The Patriots have undoubtedly become one of the most successful sports franchises ever, having appeared in the past six AFC Championship games, and won 5 Super Bowls over the past decade. But what made the Patriots the way they are?
Building a Dynasty
Building a dynasty, so to speak, is far from an easy task. Years of hard work, future planning, and careful team management are only scratching the surface of how to build a team with repeated success like those mentioned above. However, there are different approaches to building a successful team for the future. In baseball, there is no cap limit for player salaries, so teams have the power to buy exactly who they want on their team. A lot of the Yankee’s success in the ’90s and early 2000’s can be attributed to them simply buying the best pitchers available in order to win championships. Similarly, in the NBA, a team can simply spend big on a star player, and their small team will be drastically changed almost instantly.
In the NFL, things are structured so this is much harder to do. Even in the last decade or two, things have changed. Football players have so much more of a high turnover than they used to. In the 1980’s, it was not uncommon for a player to spend his entire career with the same team. Today, players are constantly changing teams, always chasing the franchise who can give them the biggest contract.
So how do the New England Patriots maintain their success in a league where building a team for the future isn’t an easy option? Very much of the Patriots success has resulted from excellent and consistent leadership over the years. Throughout many seasons of change and turnover, there have been two constant pieces remaining within the organization: quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots have had uncanny success building around their core and finding the right players to work within their system. The Patriots rarely chase after “big name” players. In fact, they hardly even maintain their own. It seems that, once a player reaches the peak of his career, the Patriots deal them away and move forward, building for the future. One of the things New England does better than almost any other organization is finding small, quiet players who have big potential, and then adapting their system to fit those players.
How Long Will it Last?
Once again, a large part of the Patriots success during this incredible run is because of the leadership they possess in their staff. But how much longer will they be successful? Tom Brady just turned 39, which is getting quite old for a quarterback, and Bill Belichick has been involved in the NFL for over 40 years. As sad as it is to admit, the days are numbered for these two. But once the legendary quarterback/coach combo is out of the building, what kind of legacy will they leave behind? My hope is that Patriots staff, and even other organizations, learn from this incredible run we’ve been able to witness. There is not a complex formula behind what the Patriots do. They implement simple tactics, utilizing what they have, and bringing out the very best in every part of their organization. I think this is something that can, and should, be utilized in other organizations. My hope is that once the incredible New England Patriots I know and love right now have moved on, we will see their legacy live on for years after.