Bill Belichick Roasted ‘The Dynasty’ as Hit Job, but the Docuseries’ Director Respectfully Disagrees

When coach Bill Belichick took the podium at Tom Brady’s Roast, he used the opportunity to take a dig at the 10-part docuseries “The Dynasty” about the great New England Patriots teams he coached.

“I’m so honored to be here for the roast of Tom Brady on Netflix,” said Belichick. “It’s not to be confused with the roast of Bill Belichick on the 10-part Apple TV series.”

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This sentiment that “The Dynasty” has an anti-Belichick slant, has been stoked publicly by former players (some of whom participated in the documentary) and had gasoline thrown on it by the Boston sports media. In an interview with IndieWire, director Matt Hamachek brushed aside the criticism.

“I certainly had no dog in this fight,” said Hamachek. “I think that a lot of the reaction probably stems from Bill no longer being on the team.”

What Hamachek is pointing to is how the docuseries’ biggest twist, and the culmination of backstage drama it captured, happened off-screen one month prior to the docuseries’ debut: In January 2024, Belichick was pushed out of the organization by Patriots owner Robert Kraft, after coaching the team for 24 seasons and to six Super Bowl Championships.

“I’m still shocked,” said Hamachek, after spending three years reporting on the inner-workings of the Patriots. “I thought that Bill Belichick would basically be there until he retires, leaving on his own terms, and after he broke [Don] Shula’s record [for most coaching wins].”

Hamachek was picture locked when the Belichick news hit ESPN, but acknowledged it is impossible to not see his docuseries through the postscript lens of Kraft exiting the coach, who many have called (including Kraft) the greatest of all-time.

“I have no idea what went into the decision making,” said Hamachek. “But if you watch the doc in the context of what happened, and you listen to some of the things that Robert Kraft says, I think you have an understanding, the breadcrumbs are certainly there.”

Robert Kraft in 'The Dynasty'
Robert Kraft in ‘The Dynasty’Apple TV+

Kraft, 83, more than anyone, opened up to Hamachek’s camera, talking about things he once publicly denied, including the mounting tension between Belichick and Brady in the final years, his struggle to keep the team together, and the fact he laid the Patriots’ Super Bowl 52 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at the feet of Belichick for not playing cornerback Malcolm Butler.

“You get through the 2017 season, there were moments where the Krafts [Robert’s son Jonathan is team president] had denied publicly that there was any tension, or that it was dysfunctional,” said Hamachek. “And it turns out that there was other stuff going on there.”

It’s against this back drop that many have argued the series was a Kraft orchestrated hit job of Belichick. Critics point to the fact the series stemmed from author Jeff Benedict’s book of the same name, for which Kraft gave full access, and the Apple TV+ series originated with Kraft’s close personal friend executive producer Brian Glazer.

Kraft himself has distanced himself from the series, saying he wished it was more focused on the team’s success, and making clear that granting access and the “Copyright Kraft Dynasty 2024″ that appears at the end of each episode in no way means the owner had any say in the creative direction of the series, something Hamachek verified in his interview with IndieWire. The Krafts’ spokeperson has gone so far, according to the Boston Globe, as to explain that the Krafts were doing the documentary as a favor for their friends (Glazer and executive producer Ron Howard), not the other way around.

“I obviously can’t speak to the conversations between two very powerful and rich men because I wasn’t on those calls,” said Hamachek of the Glazer and Kraft speculation. “I understand the questions, I guess, it just didn’t really involve me.”

This isn’t an evasive answer, it’s how Hamachek talks — careful to not put anything on the record that he can’t verify, he’s not someone cut out for sports talk radio speculation. For example, when asked if he knows why Belichick benched Butler in Super Bowl 52, the filmmaker paused for multiple seconds before answering, “Not with enough confidence to put anything on the record,” adding he had multiple people who claimed on camera they knew why, but he treated it like speculation he couldn’t put in the series unless corroborated by Belichick or Butler.

It’s along these lines, that Hamachek sees the Kraft-Glazer background as irrelevant to how he made the series. When it came to the interview, he said his pitch to Kraft was the same as what he told every potential subject: “The great thing about documentaries is that you have the opportunity to shape the narrative in a lot of ways. So the stories that you tell will inform me, a person who doesn’t understand anything about the Patriots [beyond having] read the articles and books. But I want to hear what it was actually like inside those rooms.”

Kraft certainly took advantage of this, opening up in surprisingly personal and emotional ways on virtually every controversial subject, even bringing viewers behind closed door to a meeting at his home with Brady and then-wife Gisele Bündchen after the 2016 season, where the heated super-model, according to Kraft, told him Belichick “doesn’t treat my Tommy like a man.”

But it wasn’t just Kraft that opened up for “The Dynasty” cameras. Many of Belichick’s players, who for years followed coach’s edict of not talking to the media, for the first time told stories out of school, something many now regret.

“A lot of the players were really excited to talk,” said Hamachek. “I don’t want to put words in their mouths, but as we started to get them in the chair it felt a little bit like an organization that had kept everybody sort of bottled up for a very long time, this was sort of a release of all of that. Finally, people were going to talk.”

Coming off having just finished “Tiger” — an HBO docuseries about Tiger Woods, in which the famous golfer refused to participate — Hamachek was fully braced to tell the Patriots story without the participation of the franchise’s biggest names, but with “The Dynasty” this collective unburdening had a ripple effect every journalist dreams of happening.

“As I started to talk to one person, they tell you a few stories, and then when you get to the next person you tell them, ‘somebody that I spoke to mentioned this,’ and then they start to talk as well, and you accumulate all this knowledge,” said Hamachek. “And by the time you get to the tenth person, [people] understand that everybody’s talking. And that’s part the job, to make everybody understand that this is a place where we can tell the stories that haven’t been told before.”

Tom Brady in 'The Dynasty'
Tom Brady in ‘The Dynasty’Apple TV+

The most pleasant surprise for Hamachek was how the mega-superstar Brady approached the documentary.

“At the start of the project, I assumed that [Brady] was going to come in with minders, and hair and makeup, and all of these different people, and he would have a team around him,” said Hamacheck. “[Instead] he drives himself in his car, nobody else is with him, and he just sits down in the chair and says, ‘What do you want to know?’ He came in ready to talk, and he was very open and vulnerable in a way that I don’t think people have really seen him before.”

It took Hamachek over a year to get Belichick in the same chair. The director had multiple phone calls with the Patriots coach, as they talked for several hours before Belichick agreed to participate.

“[Belichick] asked the same questions that everybody asks, ‘What’s your angle? How am I going to be portrayed?’” Hamachek recalled. “I told him the exact thing that I [told] everybody else, which is, ‘You’re going to be portrayed somewhere between the puff piece and the hit piece, and that’s sort of where the truth lies with all of us.’”

While Belichick did talk on camera more than anyone who grew up watching his infamous press conferences could ever imagine, it was not surprising there were topics he refused to touch. This presented Hamachek and his team some difficult choices in the editing room: To what degree do you make clear to the viewer they’ve heard everything Belichick had to say on a topic.

“I had done so many other interviews that I wanted to give [Belichick] the opportunity to comment on all these things, and there were times where we would hang on him, just hang on the silence of it,” Hamachek explained, “Because as we were putting this thing together, someone said, ‘Well, is there anything else? Does he say anything else after this? Because you cut right off of him when he says, ‘I don’t want to talk about that.’ And I wanted to make sure that the audience understood that there was nothing else there. I didn’t chop out some answer that was great.”

These moments of the tight-jawed Belichick sitting in silence, juxtaposed to the openness of others, is awkward to watch, and feeds the narrative that Belichick’s unwillingness to bend, which is ultimately why Brady left New England. The irony of the Belichick-hit-job narrative, is it is clear Hamachek has a great deal of respect for Belichick, and his interpretation of the end of the dynasty, and the last three episodes of his docuseries is different than most in New England.

“The thing that I got out of it also was that these two were perfect for each other,” said Hamachek of Belichick and Brady. “Tom, not only was the freak of nature who lasted for 20 years, he was the subject-your-ego guy… especially after the third Super Bowl and then the 2007 season [in which Brady broke virtually every offensive record], and the fact that even after all the personal success, I’m shocked that he didn’t change earlier.”

While Patriots fans bemoan the Super Bowl that Brady won in Tampa Bay after leaving New England, Hamachek finds it remarkable New England got another 13 seasons out of him after 2007. Once universally accepted as the greatest ever, with movie star good looks and aw shucks personality, Hamachek marvels that Brady continued to buy into Belichick’s “The Patriots Way,” forgoing the privileges of his superstar status, and be, as one teammate put it in the doc, “Belichick’s punching-bag.” That Brady only shifted once he was approaching 40 years old, and after mounting the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history in 2017 (down 28-3 against the Atlanta Falcons), was, in Hamachek’s mind, a long time coming.

“The guy who was always team first, never did anything else, started to do more,” said Hamachek. “I understand everything that Tom did and why he did it. I think it’s very normal and human, but I also think that you can watch this and see Bill as a person who stuck to the principles that he had, and never really wavered, whereas a lot of the things around him start to change.”

All 10 Episodes of “The Dynasty” are available on Apple TV+.

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