The New England Patriots organization has been highly scrutinized since the moment former tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder. Experts have asserted that head coach Bill Belichick has lost what he created: “The Patriot Way.” Critics of Belichick believe that he no longer follows his no-nonsense protocols when it comes to selecting players after he elected to draft the troubled Hernandez despite all the chilling pre-draft files scouts had generated back in 2010.
So, have Belichick and the franchise lost the Patriot Way? After all, the team has been willing to take on flight-risk players with character issues such as Albert Haynesworth, Chad Johnson and, of course, Aaron Hernandez, who all saw their tenure in New England end disastrously. Do the Patriots no longer consider off-the-field behavior as a determinant for selecting players?
Possibly to the surprise of many, the Patriots rank in the bottom tier for player arrests. According to a study done by the U-T San Diego, the Patriots have had just 14 arrests since 2000, the ninth-fewest arrests among all NFL teams. The Patriots’ number of arrests is significantly lower than several teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, who lead the league with 40 in the past 13 years.
Outside of Aaron Hernandez, there have been few core players on the Patriots’ roster to be arrested in the new millennium. The only key Patriots players to be arrested in this timespan have been Julian Edelman in 2011, Kevin Faulk in 2008 and Ty Law in 2004.
The study proves that the Patriots still deem character as an important element for choosing their players. Therefore, Belichick still has the “Patriot Way” in full throttle moving forward.