The highlight of the Alfonzo Dennard trial came when his attorney - who was just doing his job - tried to explain that even if Dennard, a cornerback with the Patriots, assaulted a police officer in Nebraska back on April 20, 2012, it was "five minutes" of bad behavior that should be weighed against a lifetime of law-abiding citizenry.
Everyone should be given a "five-minute" pass during their lifetime to do whatever they want - without serious consequence - for at least a year, pending appeal.
I would like to take my "five-minute" pass in Las Vegas, with any credit card that carries a $10,000,000 limit. And leave just enough to cover legal fees.
Imagine what a "five minute" pass would do on the field of play?
A "five-minute" pass - especially one without jail time attached - would do wonders - even for the man who has everything. Tom Brady, for instance could use the 1:20 that was left on the clock before David Tyree's catch in Glendale, and the remaining 3:39 on the clock during the Giants' final drive when they had 1st and 10 at the 50 in Super Bowl XLVI.
He'd have two more Super Bowl rings plus a whole second to spare.
Bob Stanley could use a re-do against Mookie Wilson.
Same for Bill Lee when he faced Tony Perez for the final time in the 1975 World Series.
Grady Little would only need about 30 seconds.
And Rick Pitino less time than that.
It might not do much good for the Celtics, since they would have needed 6:12 to close out the Lakers in Game 7 back in 2010.
The Bruins could parse it out to prevent all those concussion inducing hits on Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand in recent years.
In the real world, if the cops had gotten to Sandy Hook five minutes sooner, or if all those soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan knew that much ahead of time where the IEDs and snipers were ...
You get the picture.
Five minutes can be an eternity.
Dennard, who was convicted of felony assault on a police officer and misdemeanor resisting arrest, could have gotten five years in the big house. His sentence: 30 days in jail and 2 years of probation, along with 100 hours of "law-enforcement related" community service.
A lot more than five minutes, but nothing along the lines the 19 years imposed on Jean Valjean.
Perhaps Dennard can change his number "37" to "24601" in protest until his sentence is reduced.
There was nothing in the sentence about "pass-defense" related service, but there's still time to appeal - since he doesn't have to do serve any jail time until March of 2014. That means the full 2013 NFL season and what celebration or despair that will follow.
The underlying point here is that the Patriots are in such rough straights in their defensive secondary, that their whole 2013 plan hinged on whether or not Dennard - who had three interceptions and forced fumble in 2012 - would escape jail time during the season.
Bill Belichick, who would not even pick up the phone or post a Tweet to keep Wes Welker in the fold, wrote a long letter to the judge in Nebraska in support of Dennard.
Nebraska head football coach Bo Pelini offered a letter of support, as well.
And in a further stroke of attorney-guided brilliance, Dennard showed up at the sentencing wearing his Nebraska red letterman's jacket.
Who said letterman jackets don't work?
Go Big Red.
Missed Belichick's letter, but it probably went something along these lines:
______________ is a wonderful human being and benefit to the community. I ask for your sympathy when considering his sentence, especially since we have to face Wes Welker and Peyton Manning next season and we need all the help I can get in the secondary. It's bad enough we had to sign Kyle Arrington to a four-year deal, but Talib remains a long-term wildcard so having Dennard around next season would be a huge help.
He's also one of the few recent picks on defense that have really made me look good. If he goes away for five years, my record might never recover.
It the words of my former boss: "It is what it is."
It will be a challenge for the Patriots to suspend Dennard after going to bad for him in court. Did Belichick promise to keep Dennard's punishment "in-house" if the judge gave him a break? The NFL "personal conduct" policy technically may not apply because Dennard was not an NFL employee when the no-longer alleged incident occurred. The NFL said it will investigate the incident. The players' union will have a field day with any suspension, if it happens. Mike Vick and Plaxico Burress, among others, have been allowed back into the league after doing their time.
Save for the likes of Vick, what athletes do off the field doesn't bother nearly many fans as it used to - unless it directly affects the athlete's performance. If someone like Dennard breaks the law or the rules, it's up to the law enforcement community, criminal justice system and league to deal with it.
From a strict fan standpoint - if an athlete like Vick is legally cleared to play, and he's served whatever criminal punishment and league suspension that was warranted - then he ought to be allowed to play. Plumbers and construction workers who do time aren't banned from their line of work after going to jail, why should football players?
It's not all bad. Sometimes - athletes can provide even better mug shots than Lindsay Lohan.
It's a very icy, downhill road when feel-gooders start placing moral perimeters on professional athletes that are absent everywhere else in the public realm. Responsible athletes know they are role models, whether they like to be or not. But not everyone is responsible 100 percent of the time, whether they play football or work as a nanny
How many people base their musical tastes on the personal lives or criminal pasts of the band members? Thinking few if any. Same with singers, You Tube sensations, comedians, poets, writers, journalists, sports columnists (if you only knew), TV anchors, radio talk-show hosts, artists, painters, actors and actresses. And especially politicians.
And you have no idea if the guy repairing your transmission just finished 2 1/2 years at Cedar Junction for armed robbery and is currently on probation.
When it comes to athletes, people pay to see professionals perform because they're good at what they do - not because they are good people.
From all accounts, Carl Crawford is a really swell guy - except when it comes to his assessment of Boston. But I don't want to see him in a Red Sox uniform again, even if he's hitting .450 for the Dodgers in the National/International Class AAA League because he could not perform here. It was good to see Crawford in the middle of it during Thursday night's melee between the Dodgers and Padres. For another $20 million he might even throw a punch.
J.D. Drew is headed for sainthood, according to what State Run Media told us. Drew, the former Red Sox right fielder, always kept to himself, was "family focused" and never made the Herald's Inside Track column. But he also left 14 million runners in scoring position and played with less hustle than George Scott on Old Timer's Day.
Even Josh Beckett raised thousands for charity through his annual Beckett Bowl. Good for him. But he also let himself go, didn't care and wanted everyone to know it. Enjoy life in California, Chubs.
Professional sports teams have their share of scoundrels, just like the workforce at the local factory, bank, post office, brokerage house, restaurant, newsroom, police department, supermarket, house of worship, mall, elementary school, federal office building and State House.
No one wants convicted felons on their favorite team. But they become a necessary evil at times. We don't live in Fantasy Land. There are likely people in your office or company, firm, union or workplace who have done the same or worse than Dennard. And they're still employed.
Depending on whom you ask, it's considered illegal to discriminate against someone with a criminal record when hiring. Companies can even get a tax credit for doing so. These felons hopefully get help, find some guidance in their lives and make amends, financial and otherwise, in addition to becoming productive citizens, like Dennard.
As far as Dennard's punishment goes, his attorney correctly argued that Dennard lost millions of potential dollars because his stock plunged leading up to the 2010 draft following his arrest.
But that doesn't balance the scales of justice. If you're convicted of hitting a cop by a Cornhusker-loving jury of your peers, you've earned the loss of your freedom.
Even if it's for just 30 days 11 months from now.
In the meantime, Dennard is a Patriot.
Until they can find someone better.
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