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Hernandez Pledge to the Patriots: No Drugs, I Swear

Too bad he didn't make a pledge not to murder anyone, cause that seems to be his real addiction.

Too bad he didn’t make a pledge not to murder anyone,
cause that seems to be his real addiction.

For whatever reason, many of those inside the New England Patriots organization seem to hold themselves in higher esteem than the rest of the NFL. Current and former players, the coaching staff, and even members of the Boston sports media, ascribe to the standard put forth by owner Robert Kraft.

The “Patriot Way” is a standard of conduct that has commonly been accepted as a higher bar, with regard to personal and professional behavior, than is mandatory league-wide. Which means that what may fly in Oakland or Detroit—or anywhere else—simply will not cut it in New England.

Well, at least that was what it meant at some point. It was a questionable notion at best, swallowed and blindly accepted for years, that has finally put to rest permanently since the arrest of Aaron Hernandez on charges of first degree murder.

Since being arrested it’s been revealed that he is being sued by an acquaintance who claims Hernandez shot him in the face after a fight at a strip club in early 2013. Another stunning revelation about the former Patriots tight end is the investigation into his potential role in an unsolved double murder from July 2012.

The double homicide in Boston came just one month before Hernandez was signed to a six-year contract extension worth $54 million. Talk about reinforcing bad behavior…

The timing of that contract extension is likely just one of the countless ways in which Patriots owner Bob Kraft felt the organization, and he personally, were “duped” by the “most likable young man.” He had been out of the country on vacation until late last week and his Monday conference with the local sports media, including ESPN Boston, was held on his first “business day” back in the U.S.

Kraft expressed his shock and disappointment with the allegations, but he went out of his way to deflect any questions regarding what the team should have known about Hernandez’s behavior off the field. He explained:

“When he was in our building, we never saw anything where he was not polite. He was always respectful to me. We only know what’s going on inside the building. We don’t put private eyes on people.”

He shifted awkwardly between offering up condolences and directing blame back at Hernandez. Kraft offered up a letter that Hernandez wrote before being drafted in 2010 as evidence that they had done their due diligence before drafting him No. 113 overall—although he conceded this incident will result in renewed efforts into “looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things.”

Hernandez’s letter to Nick Caserio, Patriots director of player personnel, addressed potential concerns about his alleged use of marijuana and was likely sent out to every team in the NFL. In the letter he seeks to set minds at ease about his past—his alleged past—with a promise to “willfully submit to a bi-weekly drug test throughout [his] rookie season” and reimburse the team for any failed portion of the season.

Kraft said the only “risk” he was aware of with Hernandez was addressed in that letter and that he appreciated that the kid was “putting his money where his mouth was.”

The Boston sports media is obviously not going to be the group that presses him on this, but you have to wonder why a letter that was clearly written by Hernandez’s agent and/or handlers was so impressive to the Patriots, when no one else had bitten through three entire rounds.

There’s no way they were the only team in the league to see the vast athletic potential in Hernandez. But they were the only team in the league that was willing to overlook very real character concerns if it meant getting a steal in the fourth round.

Blindly backing an accused murderer? I guess that's the "Patriot Way."

Blindly backing an accused murderer?
I guess that’s the “Patriot Way” for some fans.

Which, honestly, wouldn’t be a big deal if Kraft and co. didn’t always try to pretend they were above that kind of thing. Getting a steal in the draft because he’s got low-risk/high-reward drug problems? That’s the “Patriot Way.”

Cutting a player on the eve of the Super Bowl just because you can? That’s the “Patriot Way.”

Forcing a player to issue an apology for something that he’s not sorry just because you don’t like the way he spent his bye-week? That’s the “Patriot Way.”

Signing duds like Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth because you think they only underperformed because they played for not the Patriots? That’s the “Patriot Way.”

The “Patriot Way” isn’t a higher standard of conduct, like they’d have you believe, but rather an exceptional level of hubris that allows them believe the slop they’re peddling. Kraft legitimately believes that a pledge to stay off drugs during his rookie season is somehow applicable to the current situation.

Why else would he have even offered up Hernandez’s 2010 letter?

He wants you to think: Shame on Aaron Hernandez for duping the poor Patriots with that form letter written by his agent!

But in reality you think: Um, where in that letter does he pledge not to murder anyone? What does one have to do with the other? Doesn’t this just them look worse, ultimately? If it’s supposed to make them look better, I’m not reading this right.

Offering up the letter only makes them look even more ridiculous because it’s just not relevant. As for the “Patriot Way?” It’s no longer relevant either.

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