Remember when the New England Patriots were a first class organization that would not stand any hint of a player getting into trouble? That seems ages ago after this off season. Alfonzo Dennard is the latest New England Patriot to create a media stir, something that never used to happen in New England. Pair that with Aaron Hernandez murder arrest and you have an off season that the championship era Patriots would never have allowed to happen.
Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, and the rest of the New England Patriots used to avoid this sort of scandal. They were only in the headlines for their incredibly high level of play during their dynasty era in the early 2000s. Since then they apparently have strayed from the philosophy that worked so well to get them to the top of the NFL ladder.
New England was a team that wouldn’t cause a media stir no matter what happened. This used to be a team that would not even reveal injury information to the press in the week leading up to a game. Now it seems that just about every day this team is in the headlines for some sort of negative reason.
This trend is not something that started with Aaron Hernandez either, he is merely the most clear cut evidence of the character change the Patriots have undergone since their last Super Bowl victory in 2004.
Here are some other examples of New England Patriots players that have shown character flaws that the Super Bowl versions of the Patriots would not have tolerated, or brought into the organization if the warning signs were evident.
- Rob Gronkowski partying
- Donte Stallworth killed a man DUI 2009
- Aquib Talib assaulted a taxi driver 2009 and also fired gun at sister’s boyfriend 2011
- Albert Haynesworth famously stomped the face of another player while with Tennessee and also crashed his Ferrari at over 100 miles per hour.
- Alfonzo Dennard besides today’s DUI, spent 30 days in jail for punching a police officer in the face.
Although Patriots owner Robert Kraft says that “you can be sure we’ll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things,” after the arrest of Aaron Hernandez, the team has a growing tradition of bringing in troubled athletes.
Tim Tebow is an exception to this rule, and one has to wonder how he is fitting in with his new teammates. As an openly devout Christian, Tebow probably frowns on the behavior of some of his teammates more so than the Patriots management does. Maybe a return to a philosophy Tebow would agree with is needed in order to return the Patriots to glory and remove the reputation as a team with flawed character.
A reputation of questionable character is not something that winning teams typically possess. Name the teams in the NFL with perennial character issues. Did you come up with the Bengals and the Raiders? When was the last time either one of those teams won a Super Bowl?
If New England wants to return to its glory days, they are going to have to find a way to remove the behavior that has quickly become a distraction for this team. Flawed character is not something that helps teams to succeed, and the Patriots have found this out the hard way.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express