What a crazy week. I wanted to help myself digest some of the recent news and I thought where else but here to do so. This isn’t going to be an article full of legal references so if you are trying to break down the Aaron Hernandez case legally you will want to look else where. What I will do is give you my opinion about the whole ordeal and what it means on some different levels for the New England Patriots and the NFL.
First, as a fan, I’m stunned and horrified. I’m not ignorant to the fact that most of these players aren’t perfect angels (Tebow aside). But you have got to be kidding me. An NFL player who was on the brink of having a possibly huge season is charged with 1st degree murder? Not only that but we watched it all go down from start to finish. Media has been staked outside his house for what seems like forever. Then we see him taken from his house in handcuffs, which should’ve been our first indication that this was much more serious than any of us imagined. Then we see him in shackles as he is lead into his arraignment. Shackles? The last time I saw those bad boys used was on Nicholas Cage in Con Air. This of course is all capped off with us watching his charges being read and a detailed description of what went down. Oh, you know, your normal Wednesday in late June in the NFL.
Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (81) runs out on the field before the start of the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Second, does this end the whole “Patriot way” ideal? The theory that any player that enters Bill’s kingdom instantly becomes a better team player and a better person. They seemed to be great at taking “red flag” players and making them become self-less team players. Here are a few of those players on the roster now: Ryan Mallett, LaGarrette Blount and Aqib Talib. The past featured guys like Randy Moss and Chad Whatever. To their credit these have mostly turned out well at least in the legal aspect. This has to scare some people in the Patriots clubhouse into re-thinking this theory. I know many will use the one bad apple theory here but we are talking about MURDER, not a traffic ticket. This is the worst of the worst red flags coming to fruition.
Third, what this means for the Patriots passing attack? They will now have to replace Hernandez along with Wes Welker. No big deal, just 169 receptions from last season. They had already let Brandon Lloyd and his 74 receptions go and if you haven’t heard that Rob Gronkowski guy is currently on the P.U.P list. If you’re keeping score at home that is the top four reception leaders from 2012. And if your looking for the 5th guy… That was Danny Woodhead who is now playing for the San Diego Chargers. Tom Brady can make receivers out of you and me so I don’t think they will drop too far but he has to be hoping this offseason ends quickly and quietly.
Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after throwing an interception against the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Lastly, how does the NFL handle this? Obviously their is nothing more they can do to Hernandez, but I’m talking from a PR stand point? Roger Goodell who was bound and determined to “clean up” the league has to be just beside himself. Has the approach he used had any real impact on players?