Have The Patriots Lost Their Way

Patriot Way” has been the mantra that has been touted in New England over
the last 10 years.  It exemplifies the business like atmosphere in which
the New England Patriots conduct themselves on and off the field.  It is a
higher standard to which the team and its staff puts on itself, it is a team
first mentality that goes with success.  It has always been believed that
if a player, troubled or not, found their way on the Patriots roster they could
not help but succumb to “The Patriot Way”.  It has always been
believed that the Patriots would never associate with deeply troubled players,
and if they did it was always perceived that those players were a low risk,
high reward project for the team.
Patriot fans remember the drafting of Christian Peter in
1996.  A week later the team relinquished the rights to him because of his
criminal past for violence against women.  The Patriots statement was that
Peter’s behavior was “incompatible with our organization’s standards of
acceptable conduct.” That is the standard that New England Patriots had
put on themselves and that is what the team and its fans have come to accept
from “The Patriot Way”.
I have to believe that “The Patriot Way” took
somewhat of a hit this past week with the arrest of Patriots Tight End, Aaron
Hernandez for the murder of Odin Lloyd of Dorchester.  How could this
happen to a New England Patriots player?  When the story first broke,
every Patriot fan could not help to think that there is no way this could
happen to a player on our beloved team because it just does not happen with the
Patriots.  As the investigation continued and the subsequent arrest of
Hernandez came out, it became reality.  To the Patriots credit they cut
ties and released Hernandez before the charge of murder was made public.
This has been a topic of conversation among many sports
talk radio hosts and columnists for the past week.  It begs the question,
is “The Patriot Way” a real thing or have the Patriots been hitting
on twenty and drawing aces all these years.  I have to believe it is a
little bit of both.  Up until the Patriots won a Super Bowl “The
Patriot Way” was a real thing.  Incidents with players and the law
were few and far between and they were always handled by the organization
appropriately.  Then came the trade for embattled Cincinnati Bengals
running back Corey Dillon.  Dillon also had charges of abuse against women
for allegedly choking his wife in a domestic dispute.  That is the first
instance of the Patriots contradicting themselves.  Dillon’s behavior was
not incompatible with the organizations standard of acceptable conduct because
he was a Pro-Bowl running back that filled a desperate need for the Patriots.
Then there was the trade for Randy Moss, Albert
Haynesworth, Chad Johnson and the return of wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth.
 All of these were designed to be pet projects and their presence in New
England were uneventful but filled with skepticism.  The fan based cheered
for them but were very protective of “The Patriot Way”, thus the skepticism.
 So drug charges, assault, child support and vehicular homicide were also
acceptable conduct set forth by the Patriots?
Rich Garven of Telegram & Gazette stated in his column
on Sunday that “The Patriot Way” was more reflective of what the
players do on the field and not so much off.  With all due respect to Mr.
Garven but the debate on “The Patriot Way” would not be going on if
it did not include off the field incidents, and an incident such as the
Hernandez one tarnishes that brand.  That is why the Patriots immediately
released Hernandez upon learning of the charges.  That is why the team is
offering to fans who own Hernandez #81 jersey a chance to trade it in for a new
one at no charge. Because they are trying to restore the tarnish caused by Hernandez.
Have the Patriots lost their way?  I don’t think so.
 However, I most likely will never say that the Patriots would never sign
a certain type of player because they don’t fit the Patriot mold.  That’s
not fair to the Patriots but it is the reality of professional football.
 The players feel untouchable and think they can do whatever they want.
 Since the Super Bowl in February, twenty seven NFL players have been
arrested for various crimes.  On the same day that Hernandez was charged
with murder, Cleveland Browns rookie Ausar Walcott was charged with attempted
murder.  Let’s not forget Javon Belcher who killed his girlfriend, then
killed himself.
There is a vetting issue in the NFL and when you are
dealing with a multi-billion dollar business there shouldn’t be.  David
Steele of the Sporting News wrote that the league should fine teams when their
players are arrested and charged with serious crimes.  The Patriots are
going to lose $12 million because of Aaron Hernandez, which is enough of a
fine.  The owners of the teams just need to be better about giving out
their money to sociopaths such as FORMER Patriot Aaron Hernandez.
R.I.P. Odin Lloyd
If you don’t take it from me, ask my wife

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