Belichick Won’t Be Blamed For Hernandez’s Mess

Bill Belichick is one of the few coaches who won’t get any of the blame for the current predicament that Aaron Hernandez is facing. You can read about the latest with Hernandez here, but at best it sounds like another player who got involved with “associates” who he would have been better served not to have been involved with. At worst, he’s in a lot of trouble.

Regardless of that, what would be said if this were another incident in the long line of incidents that occurred with the Dallas Cowboys under Jerry Jones and company? What would be said if it was Rex Ryan and the New York Jets with their overt lack of discipline and seemingly fundamental need to embarrass themselves with loud talk and little on-field action? The Cincinnati Bengals have had their share of off-field turmoil. The Oakland Raiders have a long history of actively seeking out players who would be in jail if they couldn’t play football—and they might be in jail anyway.

Fairly or not, there are organizations for whom the players’ behaviors are seen as an entity unto themselves with no responsibility doled out on the team or the men who signed them, tacitly agreeing to take the personal problems in order to try and win. That the Patriots, under owner Bob Kraft, were the team that drafted Christian Peter claiming not to know his history of misogyny and then chose not to sign him once they “found out” about them created the image of a team that doesn’t do it “that” way meaning the Jones way or the Al Davis way in not caring about personality as long as the player can help them.

The image failing to jibe with the reality is meaningless. If the coach of the Patriots were a Barry Switzer-type outlaw, then of course the blame for Hernandez’s predicament would be dropped on the desk of the coach because he couldn’t “rein in” his player as if that’s even possible with grown men. Since it’s Belichick, he has the power to do the things he wants and if that includes dumping a player who can still produce because he’s mouthy and violates team rules, so be it. Other coaches without Belichick’s resume and the organizational track record of success would have to make certain compromises and bend the rules to try and win to keep their jobs and have the fans come to the games. Belichick has the best of both worlds: he can dump the player or he can sign the player and no one will say anything either way.

Belichick can sign Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, Albert Haynesworth and other players who’ve had on and off-field issues and see if they’ll fit into his program. He can sign Tim Tebow and not worry if it’s going to lead to a huge media circus around his team, nor be frightented of Tebow’s legions reacting negatively if he cuts him. If these players don’t help his team, he can dispatch them with no harm, no foul. If they do, it’s more evidence of Belichick’s “genius.” In truth, it’s still a compromise, but the compromise doesn’t have to be buttressed by putting up with the same behaviors that got the players in trouble and made them available to the Patriots on the cheap in the first place.

No matter who the coach is, how scary he can be and the rigid discipline he displays to keep his house in order, there will always be players for whom trouble is a magnet. Some skirt it and rejuvenate themselves, dodging the bullet sometimes literally and figuratively, as Ray Lewis did; sometimes they end up in jail for the rest of their lives like Rae Carruth. When dealing with grown men making the money amid the fame that NFL players are today, there’s nothing a coach can do to keep his players completely in line during their off-hours. Nor should it come as a surprise if a vast majority of professional athletes are carrying firearms. In fact, given the history of people seeking out athletes to rob because their salaries are so prominent, they’re irresponsible if they don’t take steps to protect themselves. Given today’s debate regarding guns, it’s not politically correct to say that, but there’s a difference between a person who has a need to protect himself and a mentally unstable person who is able to acquire weapons for the express purpose of committing mayhem.

A coach can’t tell a player not to take steps to keep himself safe and no one—not even Belichick—has such omnipotent powers to shield a key to his team like Hernandez from what happened in this case. Belichick has protection as well: the championships absolving him from any questioning and blame. Other coaches don’t have that. That’s his weapon if he chooses to use it and, unlike what might have happened with Hernandez, it’s not going to get him sent to jail if he does.

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  1. #1 by bdrube on June 20, 2013 - 9:46 pm

    I don’t necessarily agree that these athletes have to carry guns. There is a much more effective way not to get shot or robbed–don’t hang out with the thugs and thieves. At one point Randy Moss must have realized this, because I remember a report from a few years ago about how he had moved himself into a quiet gated community. Unless some power mad freak like George Zimmerman is on neighborhood watch, you’re going to be pretty safe in a place like that.

    I’d also use as an example how this type of crap doesn’t happen very often in MLB. Why? Possibly because most MLB players are suburban kids or are from other countries. It’s not a racial thing, but more of an American class problem. Ray Lewis grew up in a broken home, poorer than dirt in a neighborhood full of thugs. He was fortunate in that the 200o incident put the fear of God into him, literally.

    Besides, it takes good training to learn to fire a weapon properly and not hurt yourself or someone else you don’t want to hurt, something which I’d bet most of these guys don’t bother to put themselves through. See “Plaxico Burress” as exhibit No. 1 on that count.

    • #2 by admin on June 23, 2013 - 12:39 am

      Shawn Springs was in his home in a nice neighborhood when he suffered a break-in, got shot and killed. I’m not buying the MLB vs. NFL argument. MLB players get into trouble as well. There hasn’t been trouble to this degree unless you count Ugueth Urbina, but Wilson Ramos got kidnapped and players—because of their salaries—will constantly be targets.
      This thing with Hernandez is more of a criminality and silly code that Hernandez was following than him getting caught in a bad situation from going to a nightclub and having someone try to rob him. That’s on him for being stupid and putting his contract and life at risk. Plaxico Burress was on the extreme end of clumsiness. Sweatpants + loaded gun without a permit and without the safety on + nightclub = jail time and losing millions of dollars. I know that if I were in their position, I’d protect myself and steer clear of people who said the words, “You gotta help me,” with that help entailing dumping a dead body and destroying evidence.

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