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War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team Hardcover – November 8, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A deeply reported, thoroughly engaging look at what it takes to succeed in the NFL.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

Crisply written, the story moves along like a two-minute drill. It also sparkles with interesting anecdotes and tidbits….WAR ROOM is a lively, fast-paced insider’s account that will please ardent and casual fans alike.” (Boston Globe)

“WAR ROOM is going to take you into the inner world of pro football. I recommend it highly.” (Peter King, Sports Illustrated)

“The ultimate book for pro football geeks.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Fans will want to read how Belichick transformed the once-lackluster Patriots into the mostsuccessful franchise of the past decade, which Holley explains in an engaging chronological narrative.” (Booklist)

From the Back Cover

Football games aren’t won on Sundays in the fall. They’re won on draft day in the spring—in the war room.

In this landmark book, New York Times bestselling author Michael Holley takes readers behind the scenes of three contending National Football League teams and into the brilliant minds of Bill Belichick and his two former protégés Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli.

Holley masterfully shows how a single idea conceived by Belichick in 1991—how to build the perfect team—triggered a journey filled with miraculous finishes, heartbreaking losses, broken relationships, and Super Bowl championships. Readers are given unprecedented access—from the draft room to the locker room to the sidelines—and insights into why Belichick is considered to be the NFL’s best coach and premier strategist.

Before he achieved success, though, Belichick was barely surviving as a coach. War Room opens in Cleveland, where Belichick, a young head coach, worked in an office with two employees in their late twenties: Pioli, a low-paid scouting assistant, and Dimitroff, a groundskeeper and part-time scout. After Belichick was fired by the Browns in 1996, the three men were in separate cities and seemingly a lifetime away from being recognized as leaders and champions. But soon they were reunited in New England, where they refined and burnished Belichick’s method for constructing a winning team, overseeing one of the greatest franchises in modern NFL history.

These three master strategists are now competitors. Belichick continues at the helm of the New England Patriots, while Pioli is now in charge of the Kansas City Chiefs and Dimitroff is running the Atlanta Falcons. And even though they no longer work for the same franchise, they do have a common goal: building the perfect team, one draft pick and one trade at a time.

War Room is their unique and often astonishing story. It is packed with never-been-told anecdotes and new observations from team officials, players, coaches, and scouts, all leading to surprising and groundbreaking insights into the art of building a champion. 


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062082396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062082398
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Wang on November 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The war room is the NFL nickname for the draft room: where the decision-makers sit during the NFL draft when they pick the college players that are the lifeblood of the team. This book follows three of those decision-makers: Bill Belichick, coach of the Patriots; Scott Pioli, who was the general manager of the Patriots during their championship run and now GM of the Chiefs; and Tom Dimitroff, the director of college scouting for the Patriots and now GM of the Falcons.

The book is a combination of reporting on the lives and relationships between these men, a summary of the Patriots' long run (which is familiar to anyone who follows the team or read a number of other books, including Holley's), and analysis of the team building process. I bought this hoping for a lot of the latter, and there were some interesting anecdotes, but was slightly disappointed by the lack of depth of analysis.

Holley does describe how Bill Belichick establishes a system where potential draft picks are always viewed in context of who they can replace on the current team, and how he uses his job security to often trade this year's draft picks to desperate teams for significantly higher picks in subsequent years. But he omits any discussion of the salary cap, which is a key constraint in building teams in the modern NFL, and the relative talent to value ratio of high draft picks (high draft picks are often carry such expensive contracts that they cripple their team financially). He doesn't talk much about free agency: how did they decide who to sign, who to extend, who to trade, and who to let go - and for how much money? He also mischaracterizes the Patriots' trade for Wes Welker as the Patriots having "cajoled, sweet-talked, and seduced" the Dolphins to part with him.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of an NFL team, not the NE Patriots, this book is a bit of a nightmare. Want to know why they are so good so often? This is Holley's second book on the Patriots (Patriot Reign). That and, The Blueprint by Christopher Price are the best books on the topic.

Holley has updated his first book by focusing on Belichick's growing network of front office assistants. The author manages to get busy sports executives to tell tales out of school. Scott Pioli, now with the Chiefs, and Thomas Dimitroff, now in Atlanta, provide quite a bit of detail on how the Kraft-Belichick system works.

Very readable. What is amazing is that they planned it after the first super bowl and they know how to make it work. The war room of course is the NFL draft each team prepares for. The Patriots use free agents and draft picks to good result. The team is constantly being rebuilt. Planning starts in the front office and moves to the coaches, players and the field.

Unless Kraft, Belichick and Brady all retire to take up falconry, this may go on for awhile.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Holley's WAR ROOM is an expansion of his 2004 best-seller, PATRIOT REIGN. Focusing upon Bill Belichick, Tom Dimitroff, and Scott Pioli, Holley presents the thinking of the Patriots, Falcolns, and Chiefs front offices leading up to and through the 2011 draft. The access Holley obtains is unbelievable. Belichick, Dimitroff and Pioli tell him everything, and the result is the best book ever written on how NFL front offices work.

Belichick is the master, the man who gave both Dimitroff and Pioli their starts in the early 90s in Cleveland. As closed as he is with the media post-game, Belichick is as open with Holley. Holley concludes that Belichick takes a GODFATHER like approach, its not personal its business, but without the dead heart of Michael Corleone. The secret to Belichick's drafting approach is stolen from Jimmie Johnson. Put on a list the 25 players you want on your team regardless of what their potential draft position might be. Stick to that list, and then be patient.

Pioli is the perpetual PH D type, poor, driven and hungry. He never forgots where he has come from and is always thankful for what he has been given. The book goes in depth into his move from the Patriots to the Chiefs and his transformation of the Chiefs operation. Everyone loves Pioli in the NFL, and Holley's detailed look shows why.

Dimitroff is an intense, counter-cultural health nut who is also as an intense, no nonsense NFL GM. Holley develops the relationship that Dimitroff has with owner Arthur Blank and the successful turn around for the Falcons that has resulted.

Perhaps the most interesting, and undoubtedly hidden gem of the book, is the complete background of the Falcons/Browns trade that sent a boatload of picks to the Browns and Julio Jones to the Falcons.
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Format: Hardcover
A pleasant surprise and well written book. Slows down a little but it was worth my investment with my time. A very believable look at this tree of football managers/coaches/scouts and the power they wield over others, along with their decision making.
I am soooooo glad that it was not about gossip and tearing people down in the sports world for this has been a rough year regarding my perception of sports. I was always interested and intrigued about decision making in sports, especially on the managerial and coach level and this book does not disappoint and somewhat renewed my faith of sport watching.
There are people who make the decisions impacting others that are NOT monsters. They feel, are challenge, and deal with disappointment like I do. Meaning there are good people with hearts in football.
My last point is that a creepy feeling came over me of the way the players are looked at; like meat/machines/robots BUT that's the way of the world. It is indeed a game for winners and tough choices have to be made on all levels. I am sure football players know that when they choose to pursue this profession.
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