“The 50 Greatest Players in New England Patriots Football History” by Robert W. Cohen
Football (American), professional, list, Patriots
November 15, 2015
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Books that list the best or worst of a particular sport, team, era or similar grouping are ones that are always interesting. They usually are good for a sports bar discussion, with arguments ensuring between participants on the rankings (“How is HE #1??”) or on the merits of including or excluding a certain person (“How in the world did so-and-so NOT make the list??”)
This list of the fifty greatest players in the history of the New England Patriots reads much like other books of this type. Author Robert W. Cohen sticks with the same format for each player – a photo, a complete description of the player’s career and the best Patriot games and moments in that player’s career. It doesn’t matter the position of the player; he breaks down each player in the same manner.
How he assesses the players and ranks them is explained in the introduction and it is an extremely fair method in which he does so. Cohen explains how he uses statistical analysis for each position, even those in which there are very few methods to use statistics to measure that player’s performance, such as offensive linemen. The rules and style of play between eras are also considered. For example, a quarterback or wide receiver who plays now when the rules favor the passing game will not necessarily have an advantage over great players of earlier eras when passing statistics were not comparable to today. Cohen also explains that only the statistics for when the player was a member of the Patriots are considered for these rankings, which helps explain why some great players who are in the book are ranked lower than one might expect.
The biggest difference between this book and others that I have read of this type is that it starts at #1 and goes on to #50 instead of the usual countdown format. That took some of the drama away. It was also good to see the author recognize many of the past great players for the Patriots. The franchise has had its best success the last 15 years, so naturally contemporary players are prominent, but there are also several players from the early days of the franchise and also a few from the years when the team was struggling on the field. Players such as Jim Nance (not to be confused with the current broadcaster), Stanley Morgan and Gino Cappeletti are fondly remembered and recognized in this book for the contributions they made to the franchise.
This book is one that every Patriots fan must have in his or her library as it covers the entire history of the franchise. Football historians and even fans of other teams will enjoy this book as well as these books are always fun to read and agree or disagree with the author’s rankings.
I wish to thank Down East Books for providing a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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