‘The Dynasty’ on Apple TV+ delivers the goods on Patriots’ Shakespearean story – NBC Sports Boston

I sat in my blue chair staring at my laptop until 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.

I watched every episode of the 10-part Apple TV+ documentary “The Dynasty” back-to-back-to-back.

My two-sentence synopsis: “It got every bit as bad as we told you. It was even better than you remember.”

The first two episodes of the series will be released Friday. Based on the 2020 book by renowned author Jeff Benedict, the doc follows the arc of the Patriots from sad-sack to Cinderella to reviled Death Star to implosion.

Beginning this Friday and continuing every Friday for the next five weeks, NBC Sports Boston will do a half-hour show at 6 p.m. featuring our main takeaways from each episode. Benedict will join us this week.

We’ve described the Patriots’ story as Shakespearean. This documentary brings that home in a way a writer, reporter or author never could. The protagonists deliver their soliloquies directly to the camera, giving THEIR version of what happened and why without the intrusion of a writer’s interpretation.

All of them – with the exception of Bill Belichick, who gives off a “I’m not into this one flocking bit because I know where this project is going” vibe in later episodes – are unguarded.

For example, some of the most jaw-dropping commentary on the disintegrating Tom Brady-Bill Belichick relationship and the declining atmosphere from 2017 to 2020 came from Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty. But that’s at the end. The beginning of the series blows the dust off of old discussions and presents them in a way we’ve never seen or heard.

Case in point: Drew Bledsoe’s version of what went down in 2000 and 2001, when he got an artery sheared by Mo Lewis, Brady stepped in and Bledsoe never returned (save for his AFC Championship Game cameo against Pittsburgh).

Where the Patriots were in 2000 and 2001 is the main focus of the first two episodes. Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Willie McGinest, Bledsoe, Brady, Robert and Jonathan Kraft, Bill Parcells, Adam Vinatieri and especially Tedy Bruschi recall the dynamics at play, which were … intense. Bledsoe never, ever saw Brady as a threat. He was more a curiosity, adorably and pathetically competing for a job he’d never get.

The one quibble I had with the first episode is that it glosses over just how vulnerable Bledsoe’s position was once Belichick was hired. Whether with the Browns or the Jets, as head coach or assistant, Belichick never had a problem confounding Bledsoe as an opponent.

Bledsoe himself is – as he was when he was here – smart, proud, self-effacing and honest. He’s a great interview.

But the team went 5-11 in 2000, he had a bad training camp and preseason and Brady literally outperformed him that summer in games.

Before he got drilled by Lewis in the fourth quarter of the 2001 season’s second game – that game, the injury and the aftermath are exhaustively covered – Bledsoe was having his worst game under Belichick. And the tenor when Brady took over wasn’t as ominous as the documentary indicates.

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The first episode ends with the regular-season game against the Rams and the looming decision of whether or not to give Bledsoe the job back. The second episode – longtime Patriots advisor and Belichick whisperer Ernie Adams is terrific here (and throughout) – delves deeply into the decision, why Belichick made it and how fraught the decision to bench a $100 million quarterback was.

Bledsoe, as Kraft explains, used the back stairs to make his case to the owner that he should get his job back. Kraft told him that overruling Belichick wouldn’t be good for Bledsoe or for Kraft. All he could do was hold his coach accountable.

The amount of never-before-seen footage of the 24-year-old Brady away from the stadium with teammates like Dave Nugent – his roommate at the time – is fun. The footage from Cleveland of just how incomprehensibly reviled Belichick was is jarring. And the unbleeped recollections of Law, Milloy, Brady and others will make you see the start of it all in a whole new light.

The end of the Patriots dynasty is fresh in our minds and those episodes are gripping. But even if you think you’re “Dynastied” out, you’re going to enjoy the first two in a way you didn’t expect.


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