"That successful businessman who doesn't have to, but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con, who's down on his luck...he's marching." - President Obama, Wednesday
We don't do politics here, but this quote from President's Obama speech Wednesday rung clear in light of the latest chapter in Rolling Stone's on-going 2013 effort to explain and excuse the most notorious accused killers in Massachusetts.
Too bad they never got around to publishing that "Whitey Bulger - Altar Boy At Heart" piece before he was convicted.
If you can get past the multiple unnamed sources in Paul Solotaroff's piece, many of whom are apparently drug dealers and/or users, the dramatized/re-created direct quotes from Odin Lloyd [someone's Ouija board must be wicked awesome], the long-standing issues its co-author has with the Patriots' organization, the musings of what sounds like a pretty disgruntled ex-employee [former security commandant Frank Mendes], the question boils down to this:
How much of this do you believe?
Unfortunately for Solotaroff and Herald columnist Ron Borges, who wrote the original and very outstanding "Patriots South Florida Cocaine Party" story for the Parent Company of This Blog that appeared in the days after Super Bowl XX, this story appeared in Rolling Stone. First off, these two had nothing do with the puff piece about the youngest and lone surviving accused Boston Marathon bomber and Sean Collier's [alleged] murderer and the decision to run his Jim Morrison-like selfie on the cover.
But Rolling Stone set the bar at an all-time low standard in its August issue. And it was not so much the cover but the galling lack of journalistic nads and skill. That story, which also included multiple anonymous sources [perhaps even a few who have since been indicted in connection with covering the alleged bombers' tracks] failed to ask any of the people who recognized the Brothers Grimm the big question:
"Why didn't you call the cops once their photos were posted on TV/Internet/Twitter/Everywhere early on the night of April 18?"
The big scoop here is what's not in this story. Not a single soul who recognized the two suspects on TV or elsewhere told Rolling Stone that they lifted a phone, fired an email or posted a tweet to alert authorities about their name or location at that time.
Had they done so, perhaps Collier would still be alive and Richard Donohue would have avoided two months in rehab after nearly dying from multiple bullet wounds.
Rolling Stone didn't point that out. We did.
Here's our favorite line of that Rolling Stone piece: "... no one wanted Jahar to get in trouble."
Thankfully, Hernandez didn't make this month's cover. His alleged body count apparently was not high enough [see Charles Manson back in the day and You Know Who last month.]
It is within that prism that we have to judge this effort to blame-shift Aaron Hernandez's role in Odin Lloyd's murder and presumably assign the culpability that Urban Meyer, the law enforcement community of Gainesville, Fla., the district attorney in Alachua [Fla.] County, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, angel dust, that $40-something-million contract, Hernandez's white-Hispanic, actually Italian-Puerto Rican, upbringing, his father's death, his mother re-marrying a drug dealer, the NFL culture...did we mention Bill Belichick...all shared in causing what Hernandez allegedly did early on the morning that Lloyd died.
Belichick was even called the "grand wizard of the greatest show on turf." The term "grand wizard" is usually reserved for leaders of the Ku Klux Klan or turban-topped pro-wrestling managers.
There's very little that's absolute about this tale, save for the fact that Lloyd is dead, some interesting facets about Hernandez's background and the part about Hernandez using angel dust, which was big during the days of polyester pants, 8-track players and leaded gas.
The most insidious part of the story from a football perspective is the assertion that the Patriots did/should have known about all of Hernandez's alleged misdeeds during his days at Florida and his escalating drug use as a member of the team.
Did Meyer, and then Belichick, know the worst about Hernandez and look the other way, eventually allowing him to sign a $40 million deal with a $12.5 million signing bonus?
What did the know and when did they know it?
The bite in this story was considerably less than the bark advertised. Even the author himself walked back the line about Kraft's claim that he was "duped" by Kraft as being "arrant nonsense." When called on that line in this interview with boston.com's Zuri Berry, Solotaroff said he left that "a little vague deliberately."
If you're going to call Bob Kraft a liar, call him a lair. But if you can't, then don't. [Here's one example of how to deal with calling someone a liar, note the presence of Meyer at No. 9.]
There's a lot of "vague" in this piece, and that's its biggest failing. There are plenty of facts here, but they are laced with lines like "the matter seems" "practically ran" and "say friends of the family" at its juiciest parts.
Those qualifiers give Patriots apologists an all out. But they also offer pause for anyone who thinks that just because Belichick allowed one of his minions to tape a football game, he would automatically look the other way while Hernandez was engaging in sociopathic behavior, knowing full well he'd eventually end up in jail for murder.
"Here's a guy who for all his gangster implications was nonetheless, or more or less, an honest citizen up until about 13-14 months ago, which is when everybody pegs his angel dust use beginning."
Those aren't my words, nor are they from Pat Patriot's mascot blog. That's actually a quote from Solotaroff himself. If Hernandez was "an honest citizen until about 13-14 months ago," how are Kraft and Belichick buffoons and or cretins for giving Hernandez that $40 million exactly 12 months ago Wednesday?
Getting back to the president's speech quote at the top, Kraft wasn't much more than a successful business man who was paying his employees [very] more than a fair wage. And while Hernandez was not an "ex-con," he had never been arrested until this past June, he was exactly the type of person, or "honest citizen" whom we are constantly being told deserves a second, third or fourth chance. Many NFL players also fit into that category.
Hernandez was given that many chances, and more.
The Patriots are being excoriated for not ridding themselves of the white-Hispanic Hernandez because he smoked pot, hung out with "thugs" and had a proclivity for photographing himself with weapons. If Exxon ever fired someone for those reasons, they'd be sued to hell and back three times for racial profiling.
There was no evidence, even second or third-hand, presented anywhere that the Patriots knew or could have known he was lacing his blunts with angel dust.
And while our bosses can fire us, in some circumstances, for things we do off the job, they are in no way responsible for our actions. What you and I do is ultimately on you and me, not my boss or yours.
The crime allegedly committed by the Patriots here is one of omission rather than commission. They didn't know what was going on with Hernandez, but should have.
That's a legitimate charge the team will have to wrestle with. Powerful men like Belichick and Kraft carry immense egos that allow them to believe they can change people. Fix that problem child and turn him into a productive adult. That likely sparked Kraft's "duped" comment as much as his ignorance of Hernandez's dubious and violent past.
They tried to fix Hernandez, but couldn't.
But Belichick, Kraft, the Patriots, Meyer, the NFL culture and angel dust did not kill Odin Lloyd. They haven't been charged in his murder, nor should they be considered accomplices to it.
That dishonor falls squarely on the shoulders of Hernandez and his pals Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace.
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