FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Two days after killing Odin Lloyd, Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez looked into the eyes of Bob Kraft and lied.
“He said he was not involved,’’ Kraft testified in court in Fall River in 2015. “He said he was innocent.’’
Kraft later said that he was “duped’’ by Hernandez, who was eventually convicted of murder. Kraft told us he was duped when he gave Hernandez a $37 million contract extension. He was duped when Hernandez donated $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund. He was duped when Hernandez said that the Patriot Way had changed his life.
Here we are again. It is not murder this time. It is a rape allegation. There is no criminal complaint. This is a “he said, she said” civil lawsuit filed against wide receiver Antonio Brown.
And the Patriots, in all their fraudulence, sound as though they are ready to let Brown play against the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
This is America. Brown gets the presumption of innocence. He has not even been charged with a crime.
But why would the Patriots entertain the prospect of playing Brown until more is learned? They don’t need this. They don’t need Antonio Brown. What if more, worse stuff comes out? What if the rape allegation is true?
Employees are sidelined all the time based on allegations that have not been filed as criminal cases. It’s common in working America. Why not here? Did Kraft and Bill Belichick learn nothing from the Hernandez case?
The first week of Brown’s life in New England is a case study in Fanboy 101. The same people who 10 days ago mocked and ridiculed Brown are now twisting themselves into pretzels to justify his place on the field for the Patriots.
Swell. But if Brown plays Sunday, the Patriots have learned nothing.
They are hypocrites because they have ownership that constantly pounds us with “The Patriot Way,’’ and insists it cares about something other than winning and making money.
Why not err on the side of caution this time? Just in case all these charges turn out to be true.
Putting someone on ice is not the same as taking away all rights. Particularly if the person keeps getting paid.
And that’s what the Patriots should do here. Time to do the right thing, not the winning thing.
Here’s Jonathan Kraft three years ago when the Giants were dealing with a domestic abuse case involving their kicker: “We’ve been . . . ahead of the curve when it comes to the seriousness of this issue . . . We are the Patriots . . . for us, there literally is no gray area.’’
When the Patriots took on Albert Haynesworth (who pled no contest to simple assault in 2011 to avoid a trial on sexual assault), Jonathan Kraft said, “If you’re going to be a part of this organization, there’s a responsibility and a sense of obligation that comes with it, because in my family’s mind, you’re carrying our last name as well.’’
Belichick has never uttered the phrase “The Patriot Way.’’ Belichick is what he is. He is a brilliant, bloodless winner. He’ll do anything to win, and he won’t pretend otherwise. The phony narrative comes from ownership and goes back to the days when the late Myra Kraft served as a franchise moral compass. Myra Kraft died in 2011.
Bob Kraft had his own issue earlier this year when he was charged with solicitation of prostitution in Florida on the day of the AFC Championship in January. Kraft issued an apology in which he said, “I have always tried to do the right thing . . . I have extraordinary respect for women.”
Only crickets from Bob and Jonathan this week.
According to NBC’s Al Michaels, Tom Brady gleefully told Kraft Sunday that he is “a million percent in” on Brown and talked about having Brown stay over at his house. By Wednesday, after the lawsuit was filed, Brady had amended his remarks to, “Things that don’t involve me, don’t involve me.’’
Meanwhile, Brown was pushing the gospel of TB12 Thursday night on his live Instagram account.
Belichick won’t answer the question about whether the team was aware of the impending lawsuit when it quickly signed Brown last weekend, but the Patriots media cartel went into overdrive Thursday and Friday, insisting that the team did not know because of a confidentiality agreement between parties representing Brown and his accuser.
Sounds like a whopper. The notion that agent Drew Rosenhaus (who has acknowledged he knew what was coming) would not inform Belichick stretches all believability.
Even if you want to buy the baloney that the Patriots were caught off-guard, what is their excuse now?
I would challenge anyone to read the complaint that includes Brown’s texts to the alleged victim. In those texts, which have not been contested as fabrications, Brown admits to assaulting the victim, and uses misogynistic language that is offensive to all humanity. Tell me how you root for him after reading this stuff.
Why play this guy?
The NFL will investigate the matter, but it is not placing Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list. The league plans to interview Brown and the alleged victim next week. The delay is unfortunate for the Patriots. Having the NFL put Brown on the shelf would have taken the matter out of the Patriots’ hands and Brown would still be paid (erasing the prospect of denying someone a chance to make a living when no guilt has been proven). Now the Patriots are forced to make a choice.
No murder this time. Maybe no rape. Maybe no assault. Maybe we’ll never know.
I’ve seen enough.
Brown is a loser.
And the Patriots should lose him.