Too many bad calls show Pats have lost their Way
So much for The Patriot Way.
Bob Kraft and his New England Patriots have for the past dozen years foisted upon a gullible public the idea that they go about their football business differently than their peers. They claimed to covet character guys who play hard, smart football and otherwise represent Kraft family values.
Tell that to Randy Moss, the poster boy for self-absorption.
Tell that to Albert Haynesworth, who crippled a guy when he struck his car going over 100 mph and underachieved for all but 18 months of his career.
Tell that to Chad Ochocinco, who may grow up one day but not too soon.
Tell that to Jermaine Cunningham and, yes, Rodney Harrison and other Patriots busted for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Tell that to Rob Gronkowski, who cavorts with porn stars and regularly makes a drunken spectacle of himself.
Saddest of all, tell it to the
Patriots’ $37.5 million tight end Aaron Hernandez, whose silence in the homicide of a semi-pro football player named Odin Lloyd is raising more questions than
The fact of the matter is the Pat*riot Way never existed. They didn’t do anything different than their peers except win three Super Bowls in four years.
They became a dynasty the same way the Browns of the 1950s, Packers of the 1960s, Steelers of the 1970s, 49ers of the 1980s and Cowboys of the 1990s did. They did it by stumbling across a future Hall of Fame quarterback buried deep in an early draft, inheriting the nucleus of a strong defense and a reliable kicker while hitting a gold mine of talent in back-to-back drafts.
Then, when the talent began to wane, the drafts failed and age and slippage set in, the Patriots did the same things everyone else does.
They lost their way trying to
They took ever more dangerous risks on players with questionable injury histories, nitwit tendencies or, most significantly, serious character flaws. The team that once dumped draftee Christian Peter — because of a criminal record — now drafts guys like Hernandez and Alfonzo Dennard, who were off many draft boards because teams didn’t trust them.
The largest, most glaring example today is the baggage Hernandez apparently couldn’t shake when he came into the NFL. Blessed with first-round talent, he slipped to the fourth round four years ago, and everyone in football knew why: A significant number of teams feared his questionable associates and repeated
positive drug tests.
One can take a gamble or two on a player with a troubled past, but not as regularly as the Patriots have. You can do it when your locker room is strong and led by no-nonsense guys like Tom Brady, Troy Brown, Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Wes Welker and Ty Warren.
But over time, most of those players left, and what remained was a weaker core unable to keep in check the excesses of guys like Gronkowski and Hernandez.
In essence, the Patriots lost their Way — sacrificing what they once claimed was most important — to gamble on suspect characters, injury-prone players or troubled guys on the way down while letting high character ones who simply wanted to get paid go as if they were greedy.
What eventually results from that is dry rot or, as the front page of this paper can attest, much worse.