July 09, 2013
Kraft Speaks, Patriots Duped, So Now What?
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
The only way this turns out somewhat good is if Jessica Fletcher comes down from Cabot Cove, Maine and says that she is a distant cousin of Aaron Hernandez and will vow to find Odin Lloyd's real killer.
Unfortunately, Murder, She Wrote makes whimsy out of mankind's most heinous crime whereas Hernandez reminds us of the stark reality of his alleged crime. And this is no cute tale of this grandmotherly old woman who meddles with police and solves crimes with amazing success. This is the real deal, and Fletcher would be told to take the first bus back down to Maine.
That stark reality was finally addressed by Bob Kraft on Monday. Kraft, who had just returned from a trip across the pond which took him to Israel and Europe, knew of the arrest but chose not to speak while on the trip, not wanting to address the issue over the phone. Even the speech he gave on Monday, which was actually a private screening for only selected members of the media, was against the advice of his attorneys since there exists the chance that the Patriots could be sued by Lloyd's family down the road.
Kraft held a press conference for only three people, Ben Volin of the Globe, Ron Borges of the Herald, and Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. Kraft made the signature statement of his take, and his organization's take, on this matter by saying tersely, "Our whole organization has been duped." He did mention that his legal counsel limited the scope of what he could discuss, but Kraft basically poured his heart out in expressing his dismay over the ongoing legal proceedings and investigation.
Kraft mentioned that he will investigate how his organization evaluates players, but also stated that he can only monitor what goes on inside the facilities at Gillette Stadium. He said that "we don't put private eyes on people", but said that "no one in our organization was aware of any of these kind of connections." Kraft said that he spoke up because it "is important that our fan base hear directly from our organization" despite the fact that his lawyers advised him against it.
There. Patriot Nation has now heard from the Grand Poobah. Has anything changed?
Let's see. Hernandez is still in jail. Two of his cronies are now also behind bars. More and more evidence is coming in which doesn't portend a life of freedom for Hernandez. The Patriots still don't have Wes Welker. The Patriots still have Tim Tebow. The Baltimore Ravens are still the current Super Bowl champs.
In short, Kraft finally made his speech, and nothing has changed.
So, if the Lloyd family tries to somehow hold the Patriots liable for anything at all, will Kraft be sorry that he took to his pulpit? Do you the Patriot fan feel any different about the state of things now that Kraft has tried to explain things? Do you feel that the Patriots need a few do-overs, if such things were possible?
Right now, the only do-over worth considering would be to re-sign Welker. Anything related to Hernandez doesn't appear to matter. The Patriots can say that they were duped, but that's merely attaching an iconic statement to what is simply a tragic situation, a moment of horrid misfortune for the franchise.
So let's hold our own press conference. Here is what now needs to be asked, and our answers are observational and not factual.
Q: Did the Patriots do everything possible to screen Hernandez and to thus avoid his being an employee of the Patriots while being arrested for murder?
A: There is no way, repeat, no way that the Patriots could have foreseen Hernandez becoming an alleged murderer. They perhaps used a bit of haste in giving him his second contract, but at worst the Patriots were taking a flyer on his track record on marijuana and the disputed number of failed drug tests at the University of Florida. But to hold the Patriots in scorn for having an alleged murderer on their roster and not being able to see it coming is just plain wrong. Kraft cannot be blamed for feeling duped. Any team would feel the same way.
Q: Would you have been okay with Kraft saying nothing?
A: Let's hope that Kraft didn't err by setting aside the advice of his legal counsel to remain silent. It is folly to believe that, by saying nothing, attendance at Gillette Stadium in the fall would fall precipitously because of Kraft remaining silent. A lower-producing offense which otherwise would have still been terrific if Welker had been there would be more damaging to Patriot PR rather than Kraft remaining silent. If the Patriots wind up getting slapped with a lawsuit and either a loss or a settlement is the result, Kraft may wish he had kept quiet.
Kraft's concern for the fan base is understandable. But what matters in the long run is what happens on the field in the present tense, not what Kraft did or did not say regarding an off-field matter. While Hernandez's absence will hurt the team on the field, Kraft's silence, if he had chosen to remain silent, would have been a complete non-factor.
Q: What will really become of the Patriots once Kraft completes his auditing of player evaluations?
If the Patriots become a team of Tim Tebows, it will be the ultimate in overreactions and will be bad for the team overall.
The Patriots won three Super Bowls with a team of high quality men. They weren't boy scouts, but none of them had the concerns of players like Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Brandon Spikes, Brandon Meriweather, Albert Haynesworth, or Randy Moss. Bill Belichick brought in men who were generally passed over by other teams and made them mesh together well enough to win three championships. None of them brought about any concern of arrest records, high maintenance or possible suspensions.
Lately, the Patriots have been taking more chances. Corey Dillon was the first, and he wound up setting a Patriot season rushing record en route to a win in Super Bowl XXXIX. But Dillon was good only that one year, and he begat other players with issues who would come to Foxborough. If Dillon can behave, the others can too.
But a team of Tebows won't get it done. The Patriots need some nasty edge to their players. Just not an edge which is felonious.
Q: If Myra Kraft were still alive, would that have made a difference?
A: Mrs. Kraft told her husband to waive Christian Peter in 1995 as soon as she found out the Patriots had drafted the troubled Nebraska defensive tackle. Myra was still alive in 2010 when the Patriots took Hernandez, but died roughly one month before Hernandez signed his five-year extension. Whether the extension would have been offered if Myra had been in better health is simply sad conjecture, but it is worth at least a thought.
Myra was the conscience of the organization when she was alive. How much influence she exerted on her husband aside from the Peter situation is also open to conjecture. Might Myra have said something to Bob regarding Hernandez if she hadn't been sick with cancer? Perhaps nothing. Again, this is something that nobody could have ever foreseen. But given Myra's influence on Bob, anything is possible.
So, Kraft has spoken. Time to let the lawyer people do their job and the football people do theirs. After a while it will only be about wins and losses and not about who should have known what or how much evidence has been gathered or how many murders are tied to Hernandez. The Lloyd family still needs lots of love and prayers. The Patriots merely need to play football.
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