In the wake of the Hernandez arrest, I have to admit ... the old chestnut "Patriot Way" is kind of being polished off after a half decade in the dust-bun. However, I'm actually a little confused here about how people are using the term Patriot Way.
I've read the book of that title. It was never about "not drafting players who would become murderers." It is not even about "morals." I've also read Bill Belichik's bio, and it is about his history with Navy (due to his father) and the idea of applying the concepts that a military team would use to the NFL. It's a lot more Vince Lombardi than it is Mother Theresa.
Patriot Way was about football as an ideology and team as an ideology; that is to say, getting a bunch of people to play in a prima-donna-less group pulling toward a commong goal; jettisoning distractions and locker room cancers; next-man-up type discipline through the roster; and open-competition training camp, no matter who each roster spot belonged to the year before.
It was about sitting Welker for the first drive of a playoff game for making a single comment. It was about giving Adalius Thomas the boot for complaining about how he is being used. It was about quickly jettisoning Randy Moss for making a single comment about his contract status and wanting to be traded or re-upped. Doing the same for Lawyer Milloy and a few others. It's also about getting rid of players that are actually decent quality only because they don't follow all their assignments, like Meriweather, or preferring lunch-pail type guys who listen to athletes who freelance. It is also about jettisoning this thug Hernandez the moment he was arrested, literally within minutes; partially on moral grounds (sure that is one Kraft) but also because it creates a scene that distracts from the *team's* goals.
NE still functions like that, and will so long as Bill Belichik is the coach.
The idea that it was about moral highground, that New England only drafts/signs saints, or that Bill Belichik was the shaper of young men is an odd artifact of this forum or a couple of reporters. Criminy, they've always been willing to extend second chances to certain guys who met a threshold of behavioir that is actually lower than most professional places, but maybe a touch above a few selection sports organizations, though I suspect not most of the NFL.
New England has always taken chances on people with various pasts, but has always stayed away from people with histories of gun violence and domestic violence as part of the Kraft Way.
Furthermore, if drafting a guy who failed a drug test is a portent of having drafted a cold-blooded murderer, then look out. Just about every team has someone on it who failed a drug test, and just about every college player smokes weed, because they are (wait for it) college students.
In that light, I could see people being smug about this if NE had held on to Hernandez until a conviction ... but they did not. Kraft took a financial hit ... he took a hit that the Ravens didn't/wouldn't take for their murderer, he took a hit the Steelers wouldn't take for their rapist, he took a hit the Falcons wouldn't take until Vick was actually in prison for mass murdering dogs. At any level, star for star, they acted about as well as a franchise could here.
I'm saying two things: One, the Kraft Way and the Patriot Way are two different, distinct phenomenon, and two, I'm not saying other franchises wouldn't do the same as Kraft Way I'm saying some ... demonstrably ... have not, so Kraft deserves some credit for preserving this part of his own legacy.
Lastly, the debate, now really fueled by a few people here that are fans of rival teams and others that engage them, revolves around this: silly internet posturing about whose team has higher 'character,' which if you visit other sport fora, and I do, is basically the same across sports. People like to take digs at opposing fans based on the 'character' of their players ... as if it has a lick to do with what happens on the field.
It has nothing to do with Bill's quasi-militaristic concept of what a team should be composed of, and only a little with Robert Kraft's aversion to certain types of behavior in his employees, and a lot with how some people blow that out of proportion (on both sides) for their own little arguments.