In Bill We Trust? Who's To Blame For Missed Red Flags

Christine Roy
July 03, 2013 at 01:26pm ET

Free agent WR Eric Decker says he would be 'good fit' with Patriots
Man charged with robbing Gronkowski's home arraigned
Buckley: What will Tom Brady do when he retires from football?
Tom Brady teases with Instagram comment
Devin McCourty not disappointed in Tom Brady

Since becoming the head coach of the Patriots in 2000, the only red flag Bill Belichick has had to worry about is the challenge flag he keeps in his sock. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, a different type of red flag has been waving around the Patriots. Ever since tight end Aaron Hernandez was labeled a person of interest in the death of Odin Lloyd on June 17, reports about previous incidents he may or may not have been involved in have been popping up. Now that he has been charged with first degree murder, the questions turn to Belicick and the initial move to draft Hernandez, did he miss the warning signs?

Bill Belichick brought Aaron Hernandez to the Patriots and now the question is, did he do his homework? (FILE:USPresswire)

Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN wrote an article that takes a look at the "ties that bind" Hernandez and Lloyd. She starts by diving into the past of Hernandez. It appears that the former hometown hero really took a turn for the worst when his father unexpectedly died when he was just 16 years old. Then instead of going to UConn, he packed up and shipped down to Florida and as we've come to learn, his trouble in Florida started from the beginning.

In September of 2007, two men were injured when their car was fired upon while parked at a red light just blocks away from a nightclub they had just left. Massachusetts police officers are reportedly investigating whether or not Hernandez was involved. According to the report, Hernandez did not speak with investigators after the shooting because he invoked his right to counsel.

That is just the latest report of Hernandez's potential involved in a violent altercation. He also apparently punched a bouncer in the head, bursting his eardrum according to a Gainesville police report. And more recently, in April, police responded to a domestic disturbance at his Hermosa Beach home after his fiancee called and reported he had punched his first through a window and sliced his hand. Police had also been there a year before but his fiancee didn't press charges. It seems as though the police were familiar with the home according to TMZ who reported that police had responded to the home multiple times before the April incident for noise violations that Hernandez apparently had no regard for.

All these reports and allegations boil down to the fact that somebody missed something. It has always appeared from the outside that the way the Patriots run their organization leaves no room for errors. They run a tight ship and every player, coach and staff member is either on board or let go. This obviously wasn't the case with Hernandez. With each new allegation that surfaces, there is a police report to go along with it. Did Belichick just "ignore the noise" and trust Hernandez had moved on? Every person is entitled to a fresh start, but the way Hernandez was conducting himself off the field, even after he signed as a Patriot, shows he never really changed.

As time goes on, former teammates are also coming out against the former tight end. Apparently he was more or less a "loner" off the field. Teammates didn't see him outside of the stadium as he continued to hang around with the crowd he grew up with in Bristol, Connecticut. Nobody ever said you had to be best friends with your teammates, but it's good practice to at least spend some time together off the field.

So who dropped the ball? Did it start from the beginning with Urban Meyer at Florida or did Belichick just take on a risk that was bigger than he anticipated? Hindsight is 20/20 and now it seems there was a lot of documentation about Hernandez that somebody didn't read. This whole experience has been eye opening for the NFL and should serve as a wake-up call. Before you take that risk, do your homework, check the facts and make sure you're only taking on what you can handle.