New England Patriots‘ tight end Aaron Hernandez has found himself in some serious hot water with the law. Recently implicated in the murder of Odin Lloyd, an associate of Hernandez’s, he could be facing real trouble with the police.
While Hernandez’s legal troubles are just beginning, his history of violence and bad behavior in general has been going on for years now. He’s currently being sued by a man in Florida who is accusing him of shooting him in the face. And that’s just the latest example of his troubling behavior.
When he was a star at the University of Florida Hernandez’s off the field issues, including several failed drug tests for marijuana, caused his draft stock to drop heading into the 2010 NFL Draft. The Patriots snagged him in the fourth round that year, despite a pattern of behavior that suggested he would not be the kind of player the Patriots had built a dynasty around.
New England has prided itself for keeping their media headlines to a minimum while under head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots say as little as possible to the media, and preach to their players that staying out of the spotlight when they’re not on the field is a requirement of wearing a Patriots uniform on it.
But recently, the team has strayed from the Patriot Way, signing players who have questionable lives away from the field. At first the moves worked out for them. Corey Dillon, a former malcontent when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals, came to the Patriots in 2004 and was a model citizen while leading the team in rushing the next three seasons.
That move emboldened them to take on an even bigger project, Randy Moss, in 2007. While the Moss experiment was considered a win because of the success he had over the next two years, the way he left should have been a warning that the Patriots weren’t immune to players with questionable off the field lives.
The days of the Patriots building their squad around team first guys like Tedy Bruschi and Marvin Harrison are gone. The team has forgotten what made them the most successful franchise of the 2000s. They forgot that a player’s character can be just as important as his talent.
Hopefully this mess with Hernandez will be the wake up call Belichick and the rest of the Patriots brass need to remember what being a New England Patriot used to mean.