Thursday, August 15, 2013

7 comments Jarrett Bell Says the Patriot Way Has Been Tarnished Forever

Jarrett Bell thinks the Patriot Way needs to be re-examined. I'm not sure the Patriot Way ever really existed since it seems like a really lazy way of trying to explain how the New England Patriots have put together a great team for over a decade now. It should possibly be called "The Belichick and Brady Way" or something like that, but that's beside the point. The point is Aaron Hernandez has been arrested for murder and Alfonzo Dennard was also arrested recently, so clearly the Patriots need to change the entire way they have chosen to build an NFL team. If the Patriots are going to keep drafting players who commit murder then the Patriot Way isn't the way Jarrett Bell thinks the team should keep going. Let's pause for a moment and mourn for a fictional term used so that lazy sportswriters can more easily explain the Patriots' decade-long success.

Bill Belichick entered the room wearing his game face, but right off the bat the New England Patriots coach — speaking publicly for the first time since Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with murdering Odin Lloyd — expressed remorse for the victim's family. Though he read from a statement, Belichick sounded genuine.

Belichick read from a statement because his statement about the Hernandez arrest will sound like it is coming from the Patriot organization also. Plus, of course Belichick is genuine. He doesn't want anyone to be murdered. Other than Eli Manning. He may want Eli Manning murdered, but not by one of his Patriots players. That would be counterproductive.

When you're running the show like Belichick, you have to read people.

Yes, I'm sure Bill Belichick needs tips on how to read people. 

It's easy now to deduct genius points from Belichick for whiffing on Hernandez, 

Not at all actually. Bill Polian drafted Rae Carruth, who is currently in jail for murder. Polian didn't lose genius points. Jeff Fisher drafted Pacman Jones, who had his own legal issues as a Titan. Dick Vermeil, a nice guy by any measure, drafted Leonard Little and Lawrence Phillips. If a coach/GM stays in the NFL long enough he is going to end up with a black mark or two on his record for choosing players that got into legal trouble. That's just the reality of it. You don't deduct genius points, you simply learn from it and move on.

who was scratched as a draftable prospect by some NFL teams when he came out of Florida because of character concerns.

The concerns were that Hernandez used marijuana during his time at the University of Florida and had failed a drug test while in college. Even the most fervent anti-drug crusader would be able to admit that failing a drug test isn't the same thing as committing murder (murders?). It's not like "This guy just may kill someone" was a real concern about Hernandez coming out of college. It's insane to knock Belichick and the Patriots for Hernandez's character concerns due to his marijuana use. Sure, these character concerns could lead one to believe Hernandez's judgment isn't the best, but it's a long way to go from "a Player X uses marijuana" to "Player X may kill someone."

The Patriots took a chance on him with a fourth-round pick and then upped the ante last year by signing the blossoming star to a five-year, $39.5 million contract extension.

The Patriots upped the ante because Aaron Hernandez was productive and had not gotten into trouble while playing for the Patriots. It's not like Hernandez was a suspect in a murder and the Patriots went ahead and gave him a contract extension.

"This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot," said Belichick, who mentioned Hernandez by name just once during a session that went on for more than 20 minutes.

Belichick probably didn't mention Hernandez because he is disgusted by the charges brought against Hernandez and doesn't want to speak his name.

Say what? Just happened to be a Patriot?

Yes, Hernandez is a human who played professional football for a living. The team he played for was the New England Patriots. His actions don't reflect on values that the team, organization or players believe or practice. The wording sounds weird, especially for a media that wants to bemoan the loss of "the Patriot Way," but Hernandez was a person who happened to play professional football for the Patriots.

If someone at my work commits a murder then he is a murder who happened to work at my place of employment, just like this same individual also happened to go to a certain college and was raised by a certain parent(s). I'm not saying the Patriots should be completely absolved from responsibility for employing Hernandez, but it's more happenstance he was a Patriot than there is any causation between the crime he committed and the identify of his employer.

Hernandez is the worst-case scenario that might change the game for reading red flags. Belichick maintains he doesn't expect radical changes for the team's evaluation process, maybe tweaks.

He shouldn't rule anything out. Not now.

I think the Patriots should at least, AT LEAST, ask potential draft picks if they are planning on committing a murder in the next 10-15 years. That should start to narrow the field down and give them a better idea of which players to choose in the draft and through free agency. The Patriots could also simply have these potential draft picks and free agents list the crimes they are planning to commit in the future. I think full disclosure is the best way to go about this. Having these players list the crimes they want to commit or possibly the Patriots should employ pre-cogs to meet with potential free agents and draft picks in order to see if they can determine any future crimes in this player's future. I think this is the best way to not rule anything out. Stop the crimes before they happen. The Patriot Way has failed and the only way to save it is to rely on pre-cogs and just asking a player how many murders he plans on committing while wearing a Patriot uniform. Full disclosure is best.

Not when it's possible the Patriots played games last season with a murderer in their midst.

Okay, it's not like Aaron Hernandez was walking around the Patriots locker room killing his teammates. This isn't a Hollywood thriller, so I would say the Patriots playing games "with a murderer in their midst" while possibly true is a bit overdramatic. This isn't "Scream 5," though if it is was then the murderer would definitely have been Josh McDaniels. He wanted to build the Patriots team in his own shape, but just couldn't do it with all these successful players around, so he had to "cut" players from the roster. Plus, McDaniels always wanted to be Bill Belichick, but just couldn't quite be him until Belichick was out of the picture. Once the main Hoodie was gone, another could take his place. That would be McDaniels' motive for committing murder.

Doesn't this sound like a bad Bill Simmons-suggested movie (wait, is there a good Bill Simmons-suggested movie?)?

The Patriot Way: Roster Cuts Hurt a Little More This Year

the sequel could be:

The Patriot Way 2: He's Back with a New Game Plan

then the third movie could be:

The Patriot Way 3: This Year the Signing Bonuses will be in Blood

the fourth movie:

The Patriot Way 4: The Injury Report Will Read "Out for Week 4- (Dead)"

See this is what happens when Jarrett Bell writes that the Patriots had a murderer in their midst. It sounds so dramatic and I start listing terrible fake movie titles like I am trying to be Bill Simmons or one of his loyal followers.

It's plausible the club had no inkling — as Belichick contended.

Or the Patriots new Aaron Hernandez had committed murder or was going to commit murder (that's where the pre-cogs come in handy) and covered up for him. The NFL must immediately investigate the Patriots for being accessories to murder.

But as they "move on," as Belichick put it, the risk-reward formulas for seeking talent for a violent sport are ratcheted up for the Patriots, of all teams.

I'm not sure any NFL team can predict whether a player will commit a murder or not. I'm not saying the Patriots shouldn't do a little bit something different in the future when seeking talent, but it's hard to predict a person's future behavior.

This is the franchise that in 1996 drafted Nebraska defensive tackle Christian Peter and then cut him within days after team owner Robert Kraft's late wife, Myra, learned of Peter's multiple sexual assault convictions and charges and demanded the team release him.

This is also a team that released Aaron Hernandez, taking a cap hit to boot, about 30 minutes after he was arrested. I don't know how the Patriots could have been more proactive or sent a more stern message on how they felt about Hernandez being a member of the Patriots organization, outside of cutting him before he even got arrested, which would be a bit presumptive.

Have the Patriots lost their way since then?

The Patriots cut Hernandez 30 minutes after he was arrested. I would say these are fairly close to being the same Patriots as they were in 1996.

When the veterans begin practicing Friday, second-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard will be on the field despite his recent arrest for suspicion of DUI, a charge that might lead to a probation violation after a conviction for assaulting a police officer.

I feel like I shouldn't have to explain this, but there is a difference in an NFL player getting arrested for murder, a player having multiple sexual assault convictions, and a player being arrested under suspicion of DUI/assaulting a police officer. Assaulting a police officer and DUI are serious charges, but really aren't comparable to a murder charge and multiple sexual assault convictions.

Another cornerback, Aqib Talib, hasn't had off-field issues since he was obtained from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in October. But he was once suspended by the NFL for a game for assaulting a taxi driver.

Talib was ONCE suspended for assaulting a taxi driver. Since he has been with the Patriots, he has seemingly been a great citizen. Maybe this fictional Patriot Way has turned Talib's life around? Why criticize the Patriots for the actions of Talib when he wasn't even a Patriots player at the time he got in trouble with the law? Other than to try and find supporting evidence for this reach of a column idea of course.

And as a first-round pick in 2008, he scuffled with another player at the rookie symposium designed to help players transition.

In 2011, Talib was involved in a dispute with his sister's boyfriend and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The charges were ultimately dropped.

None of these incidents occurred when Talib was a New England Patriot. The Patriots have taken a chance on Talib and so far it has worked for them. The Patriots also took a chance on Randy Moss and Corey Dillon when they were seen as malcontents and that worked for them as well. Jarrett Bell seems to believe the Patriots (and therefore no NFL team) should employ Aqib Talib, or is it fine for another NFL team to take a chance on Talib, but the Patriots should be above doing this?

Belichick talked Wednesday about operating on a "case-by-case" basis. Dennard and Talib are not Hernandez. They have their own issues.

Talib has had no issues since he has been with the Patriots. Stop making it seem like he does.

"This process is far from perfect, but it's one that we've used from 2000 until today," said Belichick, who, to be fair, did release Hernandez shortly after his arrest. 

"To be fair..."? Just a few paragraphs ago in this very column Jarrett Bell cited the Patriots release of Christian Peter after Kraft's wife found out about Peter's sexual assault convictions as an example of what the Patriots used to be. Then Bell wrote and I will quote,

Have the Patriots lost their way since then?

But now Bell wants to be fair and acknowledge the Patriots did release Hernandez shortly (30 minutes after) his arrest. If he was really being fair he wouldn't muddy the waters by writing "Have the Patriots lost their way since then?" The Patriots treated Hernandez the same way they treated Christian Peter, so to act like they did not is kind of duplicitous and not being fair.

Belichick agreed with Kraft's assertion that he was "duped" by Hernandez — who pledged to be a good citizen after failing drug tests in college, when he was also investigated but not charged, in other incidents.

And really, outside of looking into the incidents that were investigated but not charged the Patriots have to make a decision based on what Hernandez or any other player tells them. It's possible the Patriots could have done more, but anyone who says they didn't draft Hernandez because they thought he was capable of murder is lying.

Kraft said that during those introductory chats he typically tells players they will be released with one off-field incident, adding this message: You are representing my family.

This is the Patriot Way apparently and also how the Patriots treated Aaron Hernandez after he got arrested. I don't get the urgency to re-examine the Patriot Way.

Belichick has the autonomy to pretty much run the football operation as he sees fit. Kraft said he allowed that on one condition: no thugs.

This condition is pretty vague. I guess it depends on your definition of a "thug."

Adherence to that philosophy — even with the essential zero tolerance the Patriots have had with players who have off-the-field issues after getting a chance in New England — is up for debate.

Is it up for debate? Only Dennard and Hernandez have had off-the-field issues after getting a chance with the Patriots and the Patriots cut Hernandez. Dennard has been accused of a lesser charge of assaulting a police officer and suspicion of DUI. Perhaps the Patriots should have immediately cut Dennard for being under suspicion of these charges, but I think New England has shown they still take it seriously when a player gets arrested. I just wish writers would stop talking about the Patriot Way as if drafting Hernandez was a serious violation of how the team usually does their research into a player's background. Even the best GM's and coaches have had players with serious legal issues and not every GM and coach cut that player after resolution of those legal issues. Leonard Little killed someone while drunk in 1998 and he still played for the Rams until 2009.


Snarf said...

One of my biggest gripes in the whole Hernandez discussion is that noone stops and asks: had the U of Florida not given Hernandez a scholarship and had the Patriots not given him a job would he have not committed these crimes? I'm pretty sure that answer is no. Honestly, don't we always hear about players who came from bad areas and football gave them a chance to get away and better themselves? That coach x or y served as a father figure and kept them on the straight and narrow?

It's completely fair to ask if these institutions need to do a better job of screening who they take in. I just have a problem with trying to lay the blame at these organizations' doorsteps. Also, why does the absolving of blame only go one degree? So AH kills someone and people rush to question Urban Meyer as if he and the UF enabled Hernandez, but why doesn't Urban Meyer get excuses made for him? Isn't it the NCAA as a whole that maintains a culture of winning above all else? And doesn't that blame rest upon the American public for voting with their remotes and ticket purchases that they want to see quality college football? And doesn't that stem from the values passed down to us from our forefathers? And isn't that a byproduct of their Western European heritage? Etc. I know I'm going a bit far with this, but why can't we just aknowledge that some people are POSes and blame them? This writer may not be doing that directly, but when in the aftermath of a murder, thousands of articles pop up questioning whats wrong with the Patriots I think that points to journalists/the public cheapening Hernandez's culpability to a degree.


Keep up the good work.

Murray said...

Best take I have seen on this so far

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, that's an interesting point. I am sure some people would argue football took Hernandez from being a murder to being a wealthy murderer, but football also gave him opportunities that he would not have otherwise had.

It's more fun to point the blame at Hernandez's current team or hold someone responsible for his actions. There's more to it than just pointing the finger, but I think that gets lose amid the desire to create a narrative about the Patriot Way and how the Patriots are in some way responsible.

Murray, that is a very good take on the idea of the Patriot Way. It is such a media creation that I'm not even sure the media can explain what the Patriot Way actually is.

Aaron D. said...

The sad thing is while reading the fake Patriot Way movie titles it sounded a lot like something Simmons would write. I guess Bill would say I was (nodding)

Bengoodfella said...

Aaron, oh it was intended to be like something Bill would write. That's sad I can write like him if I try...or at least can think of fake movie titles like him.

Snarf said...

Do you write like him if you try or do you have to try and not write like him?

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, I have to try and write like him. It doesn't come naturally to me.