The New England Patriots for about the last decade have been the organization everybody else in the NFL looked up to. Well that has changed and dramatically but there’s a key turning point the Patriots took that led them to this road where they are today.
Starting in 2004 the Patriots brought in Corey Dillon who had a reputation in the league as a bad guy,bad teammate . Now he was never in trouble with the law, he was seen as a bad guy mainly because the team he played for his entire career until the trade to New England was the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals sucked and he was really their only true star player and the losing took a toll on him.
While a member of the Patriots he helped lead the team to a Championship and did well there because even if they didn’t win multiple Championships with him there, they were competitive more than the Bengals could say.
Then three years later the Patriots brought in Randy Moss. While Moss had one issue with a traffic cop, like Dillon, he was looked at as just a bad guy, bad teammate in NFL circles. Unlike he previous teams Moss was professional as a member of the Patriots and productive too. While he never did win a Championship as a Patriot this began the mantra, “The Patriot Way”.
Also included in “The Patriot Way”, was trading guys in their prime or not re-signing guys who had been very good players for them. Richard Seymour, Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law, are all examples of this. The Patriots always did one thing right though, they drafted the right guys. They drafted football players who really cared about nothing else but the game.
In 2010 their draft approach took a different turn. Instead of taking solid players who loved the game, they started taking risks. They drafted 3 Florida Gators all with plenty of talent and a lot of warnings and red flags as well. They drafted Jermaine Cunningham, Aaron Hernandez, and Brandon Spikes.
In 2012, Cunningham was suspended for violating the NFL performance enhancing substances policy. In 2010, Spikes was suspended four games (the remainder of the 2010 regular season) for a violation of the NFL’s banned substances policy. Brandon Spikes reputation in New England is not very good, according to Tom Curran, Patriots beat writer.
In the 2012 draft the Patriots took another guy many teams had removed from their draft boards because of his trouble with the law. Alfonzo Dennard was a highly ranked cornerback going into the 2012 draft but his talent was overlooked by most because 3 days before the draft he allegedly punched an officer at a bar. He was ultimately found guilty of doing so and was sentenced to 30 days in jail in 2013 to be served in 2014. On July 11, 2o13 he was arrested for suspicion on DUI, a whole three months into his 24 month probation.
It’s one thing to bring in a guy who is thought of as a “bad teammate”, it’s entirely different to bring in guys with extensive criminal pasts and expect them to continue “The Patriot Way”.
Thanks for reading.