“The Dynasty,” a 10-part docuseries about the New England Patriots’ historic run of success debuted Feb. 16 on Apple TV+. Two episodes are released every Friday, and we’ll dig into each episode with takeaways. Next up: Episode 3.

Episode 1: Backup Plan
Episode 2: The Snow Bowl

The third episode covers the Patriots’ ascension to a dynasty, starting with the team’s historic Super Bowl XXXVI win over the St. Louis Rams. Drew Bledsoe saves the day before going back to the bench as Tom Brady plays the role of hero in New Orleans — and a star is born.

— One of the underrated parts of this series through two weeks is the abundance of rarely or never-before-seen mic ‘d-up football content. It’s not just highlights from new angles, but we’re privy to on-field chatter, too. For instance, Brian Cox and Jerome Bettis trash-talking before the 2001 AFC Championship Game, which opens Episode 3, with Cox telling Bettis at the pregame coin toss, “We ain’t scared of your ass. Watch what happens. I’m gonna get you.”

Story continues below advertisement

— We also get some Patriots history lessons early on, and quite frankly, Robert Kraft and (literal) company do a great job of making a man with a current net worth north of $10 billion seem like a rags-to-riches success story. Which isn’t to say Kraft hasn’t earned his spectacular fortune. It’s just you hear something like this, and it has that scent of revisionist history for which Kraft has become known:

“Seeing the dumb things being done, I said, sheesh, if I could own this team, what I would do? Was that a pipe dream? A lot of people probably thought it was. I was a self-made businessman who ran a paper company. I didn’t have wads of cash sitting in a bank account.”

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

When you put it that way, he makes it sound like Michael Scott just one day decided to start one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.

The narrative also omits the Michael Jackson story from the 1980s when Chuck Sullivan cost the family business $20 million when he tried to produce Jackson’s “Victory” tour. Sullivan Stadium itself was used as collateral. It started the Sullivans’ downfall and opened the door for Kraft. The entire thing would be documented in Sports Illustrated a few years later in a story titled “The $126 Million Fumble.”

Story continues below advertisement

Kraft, to his credit, seized the opportunity. He ended up buying the stadium, of course, as he says “I made moves to buy the stadium and the land the stadium sat on at what was a really low cost.”

The low, low cost of $22 million in 1988. Again, shrewd as hell, but maybe a slight manipulation of the narrative. And when he bought the team, he bought it for $172 million, the highest price for a football team at the time. Alas.

— This might be the last time we see Drew Bledsoe in the series. This quote about his dramatic relief appearance in the 2001 AFC Championship Game against the Steelers stood out: “I was gonna compete my ass off in every way that I possibly could because the Super Bowl was so close. To get that close, and then not get to go, I was never going to let that happen.

All of that only to see the starting job — in the Super Bowl, no less — given right back to a healed Brady. Just looking at Bledsoe 20-plus years later, you can see it still kind of hurts.

Story continues below advertisement

Then there was this quote from Tedy Bruschi that tied it all together and underscored just how well Bledsoe handled his final days as a Patriot.

“Drew could have messed a lot of things up. As frustrated as Drew was, he still was very supportive to Tom,” Bruschi said. “That meant a lot for me to see. All this stuff Belichick says like doing your job and putting the team first, Drew was like, living that. There’s a $100 million quarterback doing what’s best for the team, and that’s where I think the Patriot Way started.”

— This episode did a really good job tying together the idea of “team,” from going back to the Bill Parcells debacle at Super Bowl XXXI to Kraft’s postgame speech commending the group for the emphasis on team. Then, knowing how this thing ultimately ends, it’s hard to ignore.

— Speaking of Parcells, time clearly hasn’t healed all those wounds. Parcells was throwing haymakers over the roster control, saying “incompetent people” were making football decisions, saying he knew he wasn’t going back to the Patriots. Kraft returned indirect volley, accusing Parcells of not always “(putting) team first,” accusing him of “making decisions that were best for Bill Parcells as opposed to the best for the New England Patriots.

Story continues below advertisement

— But the team thing is weaved back in once again at Super Bowl XXXVI, where Belichick recalls a humorous story about giving up his hotel room in New Orleans to Lawyer Milloy.

“That was the furthest thing from my mind, and just kind of said, ‘Lawyer, look, you can have the head coach’s room,” Belichick recalled in perhaps his lightest moment of the first few episodes. “I don’t really care, and if that’s not good enough for you, that’s the best I can do. Here you go.’ So then for the rest of the week, it’s kind of ‘Lawyer, is everything OK? Is your view OK? Your room good? Got enough space in there?’ So we kind of joked about that all week.”

But as Milloy said, it was an example of Belichick putting the team first.

— The team introduction for Super Bowl XXXVI gets a lot of play, and it was cool. But credit Bruschi for at least acknowledging why it’s OK for a football player to want his name called at the Super Bowl.

Story continues below advertisement

“They say your name, they say your number, they say your position, and you run out for the world to see,” he said. “That’s almost like a culminating moment for a player.”

— This, from the tunnel right before the game, is cool.

— One weird thing? The idea that this was something done as a way to honor America or embody the country after Sept. 11. Jon Bon Jovi, of all people, tries to strike that chord.

“Watching this, I was thinking, ‘holy (expletive),’ ” he says. “My team. ‘Please welcome’ — I’m getting chills right now — ‘ … the New England Patriots. That was the red, white and blue. That was America. Tribalism? Put to the side. We were one.”

Story continues below advertisement

Except for, you know, the Rams.

— The Patriots’ physicality was on full display in that game, and as we know, it was part of the game plan. It’s still striking to hear New England talk about its collective toughness — especially juxtaposed with the Rams.

“They were a more skilled football team, but we didn’t think they were a very tough team,” cornerback Ty Law said. “I was like, you know what? I’m tired of hearing about the track team. I’m tired of hearing about how fast, how athletic they are. This is football. We about to rock ya’ll’s ass.”

— Rams coach Mike Martz was there to talk about it, too. He’s sticking to the story that the Patriots basically mugged the Rams’ receivers.

“I never said anything about it, and you know why,” he said. “‘Cause then you do it, and it’s all ‘Martz (whiney voice), you’re gonna cry’ and all that kind of stuff. But it’s a fact, and if you can get away with it, get away with it. And he did.”

Then he did this, and it was quite funny.

— Law was also great talking about his game-changing pick-six.

“I ain’t going to lie. That was probably one of the easiest interceptions I’ve had in my life,” he said. “Those are the kinds of interceptions we typically drop. Because it’s like, you bulls——‘ I know you — whatchu talking ’bout Kurt (Warner)? I know you ain’t ’bout to throw that.'”

— Anyway, the Patriots win the game and all of that. Everyone remembers John Madden questioning in real-time whether the Patriots should have taken a knee and played for overtime. New England, as Ernie Adams said, wasn’t sure it could get a stop in OT, so the Patriots played for the win.

That led to an incredible exchange between Belichick, Bledsoe and Brady.

Brady: “I go up to Coach Belichick, and he says, ‘We’re going,’ and he says ‘Just take care of the ball.’ Drew was kind of standing next to me, and he just kind of shuffled in front of that and he just says ‘(Expletive) that.'”
Bledsoe: “I remember someone saying to Tom ‘Hey, be careful.’ Like, no. ‘We’re big underdogs in this game, no one expected you to be here, no one expected us to be here. You know, (expletive) it, man … go.'”

— Brady also told a fantastic postgame Belichick story, presumably recalling the ride to the traditional day-after coach and MVP press conference.

“I remember getting in the car, and Coach Belichick, he was still (expletive) up from the night before. I could smell the alcohol. I remember him saying to me ‘Well, Tom, you had a pretty good year.’ That was his way of complimenting me.”

— The ending adds some tremendous perspective and foreshadowing. The Boston Globe’s Jackie MacMullan talks about the Patriots’ “elixir” everyone wanted a part of, as New England went on to establish its dynasty over the next few years. Bruschi talks about an “addiction” to winning, and the episode ends with former executive Scott Pioli giving a tremendous bit of insight into how attitudes and dispositions can change — for the worse — despite unprecedented success.

“It’s difficult to explain to people sometimes, but this game is like a narcotic,” Pioli says. “When you have success, every time you get a little bit, you want a little bit more. The highest highs you get when you win, you’re chasing that forever. … There was this group of us that became addicts together. We were actually enabling one another. Some of us know it, some of us don’t, and some don’t care. As time goes by, your relationship with the drug, it changes. After winning, instead of euphoria, it’s just a relief. When you lost, it was dark. You would do anything and everything to stop the fear of losing. Anything.”

“That was a lifelong dream of mine. It was pretty f—— amazing.”
–Brady, on winning his first Super Bowl

“And everyone is like ‘Oh, s—, you know, we’re gonna throw it.’ My confidence was up and down that year. I really didn’t know what I was capable of, but to know I had the confidence and trust of my teammates, for me, it was like, ‘Let’s go out and sling it.'”
–Brady on the Patriots decision to go for the win in Super Bowl XXXVI

Drew Bledsoe — a lifetime achievement award, if you will

The aforementioned “team” theme was a cool way to tie together the end of the Parcells era and introduce the dynasty. But if you’re at all familiar with the Patriots’ dynastic run, there’s not a ton of new stuff in this episode. Still enjoyable.

Screenshots used with permission via AppleTV+

Featured image via The Dynasty/Apple TV+