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Review: “The Dynasty” Episode 9 – Breaking Point

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads a letter from New England Patriots NFL football coach Bill Belichick at a campaign rally, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The New England Patriots’ incredible run under the trio of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady is being captured in a docuseries called “The Dynasty” on Apple TV. Patriots Football Now will be reviewing each episode. There will be ‘spoilers’ about the content of the episodes in these reviews, but presumably, anyone reading already knows the outcomes of the actual events.

The episode begins with a 2016 Donald Trump campaign rally. Trump stands at a podium reading a letter from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, wishing him well in the election.

Old clips of Belichick telling the team not to say anything about the press are shown. Belichick is asked about now by series director Matthew Hamachek. He states, “My relationship with Donald Trump isn’t political.”

Longtime Patriots captain Devin McCourty reflected on the letter from Belichick to Trump.

“We got kind of bamboozled,” said McCourty. “I had some opinions I might’ve wanted to share, but out of respect to the team, I didn’t.”

Fellow New England captain Matthew Slater chimed in disapprovingly on the incident as well, stating, “I personally thought it was pretty hypocritical.”

Super Bowl 51 Win

Before the official opening, a return to the celebration following Super Bowl 51, the comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons featured in Episode 8.

Boston sports media member Tom E. Curran re-appears in the series. He talks about how the win somehow has the reverse effect that it should have.

Curran comments on how over the following year there is, “A crumbling of relationships, diminishing enjoyment, and a certain level of dysfunction.”

The Patriots party at a Super Bowl celebration where they receive their new Super Bowl rings. Everyone is celebrating and having a great time. The good times will apparently not last.

Tom Brady Industries

Tom E. Curran comments on how Tom Brady began to do what was in his own best interests, not as worried about Bill Belichick’s approval. Brady is shown talking to a crowd in Tokyo and doing some photo shoots and commercials.

Robert Kraft discusses Brady looking for independence, specifically regarding his relationship with trainer Alex Guerrero.

Alex Guerrero

Tom Brady and Alex Guerrero’s relationship is documented. Guerrero uses the word “soulmate” when describing their relationship. Brady credits Guerrero for relieving his pain and adding years to his career. Eventually, other Patriots players began going to Guerrero for treatment as well. This included Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski.

Gronkowski talks about coming back from an injury and how he was in a lot of pain, moving poorly, and in Belichick’s doghouse. He was happy to be working with Guerrero.

Curran detailed a story about Belichick dressing Gronkowski down for not doing spots, calling him weak because he’s only working with bands.

Amendola acknowledges he does understand the tension between the New England Patriots strength and conditioning coaches giving one message while Alex Guerrero is telling them something else. Eventually, this leads to Guerrero no longer being allowed on the sideline and other restrictions around him access to the team and working with players.

Ernie Adams points out that players can do whatever they want away from the building, but the team can’t have mixed messages within the building.

Brady’s reaction to it is basically, “What the f*ck?” because of how great he thinks Guerrero is and how helpful he was to Brady (which in turn is helpful to the team as well).

Evolution of Belichick-Brady Relationship

Media member Michael Holley details how the dynamics of the relationship between Belichick and Brady had changed over time. Brady went from always doing what was best for the team to becoming his own man.

This section includes news of Jimmy Garoppolo getting traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Robert Kraft denies making Belichick trade Garoppolo but stated he told him they would never trade Tom Brady.

Holley comments on Belichick after the Garoppolo trade: “It was like he lost his best quarterback friend.”

New England Patriots players talk about a noticeable tension in the building. This includes Gronkowski, Amendola, and Malcolm Butler. There was now a “turf war” of sorts in Foxboro between the head coach and the star quarterback.

Team Trump

Back to Donald Trump. A clip of Trump is shown talking to a crowd about how NFL owners should fire players who don’t respect the flag. A clip is shown of Colin Kaepernick kneeling.

Devin McCourty speaks of the difficulty of being a player on “Team Trump” with the Patriots since New England’s three biggest figures (Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady) were all “friends or friendly with” Donald Trump. This one line, buried in the middle of the episode, is the only mention of anyone other than Belichick having some connection to the former president.

Donte Stallworth, who hadn’t played for the Patriots since 2012, comments during this section as well.

Do Your Job

Journalist Howard Bryant talked about the “do your job” mantra in New England. How this can be an effective way to accomplish a task, but also results in a joyless workplace. It shows a lack of excitement even as the team wins the AFC Championship to advance to Super Bowl 52.

“All of it is worth it,” summarizes Bryant, “if we win.”

Super Bowl 52

The New England Patriots played the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52. Highlights of the game are shown, though 99% of the focus is on cornerback Malcolm Butler not playing. He is shown crying during the national anthem before the Super Bowl.

“I didn’t find out until the game that was gonna play,” says Butler.

The game unfolds, with neither team able to stop or even slow down the other. Despite this, Butler is never put in the game. “Coach’s decision,” is Butler’s only explanation years later. Nobody seems to know for sure and Bill Belichick is not going to enlighten anyone.

“Matt,” he says to series director Matthew Hamachek, “we’ve talked about that.” Once again, unlike other characters in the series who opted out of certain topics, Belichick is shown not answering the questions His response doesn’t do him any favors.

“What has been told to me is that there was something personal going on between Bill (Belichick) and Malcolm (Butler) that was not football related,” gossips Robert Kraft.

“That sh*t kind of pisses me off still today,” reflected Danny Amendola on Butler’s benching. “I felt like we got cheated a little bit.”

After the season, players like Butler and Amendola left New England in free agency. Rob Gronkowski admittedly trolled his head coach by reacting to Amendola leaving online.

“Be FREE. Be HAPPY,” was part of Gronkowski’s message to Amendola upon signing with the Miami Dolphins.

“Well said Gronk,” replied Tom Brady.

Final Word

Robert Kraft states, “I realized we were coming the near the end. And I was just trying to hold it together the best I could.”

Episode 9 Review: 5/10

This episode focuses on three figures: Donald Trump, Alex Guerrero, and Malcolm Butler.

Donald Trump, as Devin McCourty briefly points out, had some relationship with Robert Kraft and Tom Brady. However, only the relationship with Bill Belichick analyzed. It leads off the entire episode.

Alex Guerrero gave Patriots players conflicting advice to what Patriots employees told them. Ernie Adams correctly states there cannot be conflicting medical advice within the building. But the handling of Guerrero negatively affected the Belichick-Brady dynamic far greater than drafting Garoppolo, or anything else this series as suggested as breaking points.

Malcolm Butler being benched for Super Bowl 52 remains a mystery. That being the sole focus of the Super Bowl seems silly. However, it remains baffling why Belichick wouldn’t give Butler an opportunity after the initial plan did not work. Either it was a poor decision by Belichick, rooted in a personal beef which Kraft alluded to, or there is more to it that Belichick is opting not to share.

The thoughts from respected players like Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater are the most interesting parts of this episode. This episode is not in chronological order, as the letter Donal Trump reads happens months before the Patriots won Super Bowl 51 (featured in Episode 8).

This episode was all about the joyless, miserable experience of playing for the New England Patriots. It features them going to their second Super Bowl in a row and falling just short. Based on this episode, one is led to believe it was the worst season in NFL history. And therein lies the reason this series as long ago lost both credibility and interest in these parts, which is a shame.

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