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"The Dynasty" Spygate episode review: Ernie Adams vows to take some secrets to the grave

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BOSTON -- The second round of episodes of "The Dynasty" has dropped on Apple TV+, and it's the fourth episode that's sure to get the most attention this week.

That's more than reasonable, as the Patriots didn't win Super Bowl XXXVI in this documentary series until late in the third episode. One could argue that's a lot of time spent revisiting stories that have been told many times over the years -- Robert Kraft purchasing Foxboro Stadium and surrounding land before buying the team, Bill Parcells bolting for the Jets after Super Bowl XXXI, Bill Belichick sticking with Tom Brady over Drew Bledsoe, etc. -- and ... one would be correct. It was a bit of a slow ramp-up in terms of presenting new or unknown information to anyone who's followed the Patriots closely or even loosely since the start of the dynasty.

Yet the creators clearly put an emphasis on telling the story of the establishment of the dynasty, and to anyone watching who didn't know the ins and outs of how it all came to be, well, now they know.

With that, here's this week's review of episodes 3 and 4, which went live on Apple TV+ on Friday morning.

"The Dynasty" Episode 3: "Borrowed Time"

--As stated, there's a lot here you already know if you've followed the Patriots. Kraft's history of buying up the land surrounding Foxboro Stadium as well as the stadium itself is covered. Bill Parcells' tenure and ugly departure is briefly examined. (Parcells sat down for an interview, which was cool.) Bledsoe helped them win the AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh. They were introduced as a team at the Super Bowl. They were heavy underdogs vs. the Rams. Bledsoe told Brady to sling it on the final drive. They won the game. The owner said, "We are all Patriots." All well-established elements of Patriots lore.

--I was grateful that former Rams head coach Mike Martz was interviewed for the series, because he further proved that no team has ever taken less accountability for a loss than the 2001 St. Louis Rams. We know that Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner and many others have blamed "Spygate" and a filmed walkthrough for their loss (no need to reopen any of that matter, really). But in this episode, Martz took the opportunity to complain about the officiating from a game played more than 20 years ago. We have to run his full quote here:

"There's something that happened that game, and Bill was really good about this. According to his players, he said, 'Listen, latch onto these receivers on the jersey and hang on. They're not gonna call holding or pass interference in the Super Bowl. They're not gonna do it. And when they do, all right, stop doing it. And then go back and do it a little bit later.' So that's what they did. I never, ever said anything about it. And you know why. Because if I do, it's, '[imitates crying] eh, Martz!' Crying 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."

The funniest part about this quote is that the Patriots didn't hold the Rams' receivers. They simply smashed the Rams' receivers. Knocked them on their behinds. There's a difference. It was the most physicality those receivers had ever encountered and it stunned them for almost the entirety of the game. (The Patriots were also hit with two defensive holding penalties, one of which negated Tebucky Jones' fumble-return touchdown, as well as a defensive pass interference penalty in the game.) If nothing else, this episode was useful for showing the Rams still have trouble admitting that they got beat.

--There's one clip of a pregame huddle with all the Patriots hooting and hollering on the field before kickoff in Super Bowl XXXVI. I've seen all the NFL Films programs on this game but I don't recall ever seeing this one particular shot. With a flared light hovering above the team, it's really a surreal-looking shot. It's only about 12 seconds, but credit to whoever decided to include that full shot uninterrupted. 

--Tom Brady had a funny recollection of seeing Bill Belichick the day after the Super Bowl: "The next day I remember getting in the car, and Coach Belichick, he got in and he was stil f----d up from the night before! I could smell the alcohol! But I remember him saying to me, 'Well ... Tom ... you had a pretty good year.' You know, and that was his way of complimenting me."

--The episode then buzzed through Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX and showed Brady catapulting to international fame. It covers the 2003-05 seasons and postseasons in about a minute, and then ends on an ominous note with some Spygate tapes.

"The Dynasty" Episode 4: "Spygate"

--This episode rocks. Plain and simple. I would expect some Patriots fans don't want to relive Spygate, which is fair. But they did an excellent job of capturing the hysteria surrounding the 2007 team. Shortest review possible: This is an excellent episode.

--Randy Moss makes his series debut. Randy Moss is simply fun to listen to. Not TV Randy Moss -- real Randy Moss. And real Randy Moss shows up for this one.

--Ernie Adams, seen as a key component of the whole videotaping operation, wasn't willing to say anything.  "Just so you know, on this whole video thing? The Jets game in 2007? OK -- just, I'm not gonna reopen it," Adams said. "Just, so you know, I mean, this is -- you're not gonna, I'm not ... like, could I tell ya stories? Yes. Am I gonna? No. I've got some ... it's going to the grave with me a little bit."

--Eventually, Adams did offer his opinion on the matter, while still not revealing any details. "The biggest thing everybody has to understand is that there have been plenty of teams in the history of the National Football League who have tried to take another team's signals. That's why you see a lot of coaches trying to cover their mouth. It's part of the game," Adams said. "I always figured other people were filming our signals. And I know in some cases they were. It's kind of basic counter-intelligence.

--Bill Belichick also refused to say a single thing about the matter. "Yeah, again, that's all in the past. I've made my comments on that. I don't have anything to add."

Instead of getting new comments from Belichick, the show went with old file footage of Belichick getting grilled by Armen Keteyian for CBS News. (Minor nitpick: I would have gone with his perturbed answer from his Mona Lisa Vito press conference. It was better than the interview clip.)

--Robyn Glaser, who's been an executive with The Kraft Group since 2007 and was recently elevated to EVP of football business and senior adviser to the head coach, said her first day working in Foxboro was the day after the Jets blew the whistle on the videotaping operation in 2007. Quite a memorable first day. "The NFL flew security personnel in again [after punishment was handed out] and it was decided that we would destroy the tapes on-premises," Glaser recalled. "So I remember walking down the hallway and asking someone for a hammer. And they took the hammer to the tapes. And I'm on my hands and knees, in a dress and high heels, picking up the tapes and throwing them away. I remember thinking to myself, 'All the news cycles and all the commentary, this is done. It's over. We've been fined. This is over.' That is not at all what happened."

The dramatic recreation of the cleanup after that tape-smashing was a bit much, but there's something be said about the dramatic effect.

--The episode did a great job of capturing how the Patriots responded to the whole world calling them cheaters.

Tedy Bruschi said this: "Bill would never express how he despised everything that was said. Like, 'Trying to invalidate everything that we've done because of a signal?' But this is how we knew when he felt it: That offense kept scoring. Bill was just relentless. We'd up by 20, 30 points, and he's telling the offense, 'Do it. Again.' We're beating people's ass so bad that we're the bad guys. I sort of liked it, though." (Bruschi made a habit of playing "Another One Bites The Dust" on his docked iPod in the locker room after wins.)

Randy Moss said this: "Each week, Bill wanted to take the jugular. I appreciate his killer instinct. I'm a bad motherf---er too, now."

Rodney Harrison said this: "Our goal was to blow everybody out the water. F--- 'em all. That's our mentality. That's our little thing. F--- 'em all."

Donte Stallworth said this: "Spygate, we all took it personal. We're not out here just to win games. We're out here to f---n' make you quit. We want to do very bad things to you."

Brady didn't make any such comment in his interview, but there was one clip of him on the sidelines during the Patriots' Week 2 win over the Chargers saying, "Hey, we are not finished! We ain't done! We are beating their ass for 60 minutes, all right?" That comment elicited a wide grin from offensive lineman Russ Hochstein.

And though Belichick didn't weigh in on the matter, there was one clip of him smiling while chomping on some "humble popcorn" in the locker room in Dallas, after a 48-27 win over the Cowboys.

--Patriots fans may not enjoy the series of clips of Brady getting absolutely pummeled in Super Bowl XLII, but it's a masterful montage. With a musical soundtrack of the second movement of Verdi's "Messa da Requiem," it's quite simply beautiful. Much like the Super Bowl XLII episode of "Man In The Arena," though, parts like this may end up appealing more to Giants fans and Patriot haters.

--Michael Strahan summed up the Giants' mindset: "It felt like darkness against light. Good against evil. We understood Tom Brady's the catalyst for how well that offense worked, so we had to hit him almost every time he dropped back. Let's kick the devil's ass."

--Tom Brady's reaction to the David Tyree helmet catch: "I was like f---, man. How the f--- did you do that? That play, I was looking at it the other day, if that ball bounces up, we have like five guys there to intercept the ball. It's a million-to-one."

--Randy Moss laments the deep bomb from Brady that he didn't catch at the end of the game: "Out of all the plays that I've made my whole life, that still haunts me. My fingertips touched it. I nipped it." (Defensive back Corey Webster tipped it before it hit Moss' hands. Randy shouldn't be that hard on himself.)

--The aftermath of that loss was described in detail, with Jonathan Kraft saying he saw people puking and crying on the floor of the locker room. That just about sums it up.

Brady added: "There was no sleep. There was no sleep for ... for a long time."

Patriots fans who still can't believe that stunning end to the near-perfect season can surely relate. And even though this episode may prove triggering for anyone who doesn't want to revisit anything about the 2007 NFL season, the story was told excellently.

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