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Mesko says thanks as Patriots keep prioritizing football over public perception

Posted by David D'Onofrio  August 31, 2013 01:01 PM

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After Aaron Hernandez’s arrest for murder put a stain on the franchise, some theorized that the Pats might make roster decisions with public perception in mind, and perhaps prioritize character and community over pure football when it came time to finalize the 53-man roster.

They didn’t. Golden boy Tim Tebow's pink slip is evidence of that to a certain extent, but more obvious was Saturday's release of punter Zoltan Mesko. In order to save more than $900,000 against the salary cap, and avoid having to pay the incumbent a raise next season, the Patriots opted to keep rookie (and two-time Ray Guy Award winner) Ryan Allen over Mesko – recipient of the team’s coveted Ron Burton Community Service Award just a year ago, founder of his own charitable foundation, host of Zolioke, and a fixture at the team’s service events since the day he arrived.

It all wasn’t enough to keep him, even at a time when the Pats could seem to use any bit of positive off-field news they could possibly conjure, and even if the competition on the field revealed little in the way of discernible differences between he and Allen as a punter or a holder on place kicks. But Mesko was by all accounts one of the genuinely nicest players and best teammates the Patriots have employed in some time, and that was reflected in the gracious goodbye he left on his Facebook page Saturday morning.

“First and foremost, I want to thank the New England Patriots for everything they have done for me,” he wrote. “I have nothing but love in my heart as I depart this great organization. Mr. Kraft, the coaches, the strength staff, the trainers, the media personnel, the marketing department, the rest of the amazing staff members at Gillette, and especially my teammates…THANK YOU for all that you have given and have done for me.

“I want to say that I see the silver lining in things now more than ever, and am a true believer that things DO happen for a reason. This goes out to anyone that will ever come across a mere bump in the road; be thankful, be positive, because there’s a deeper purpose of WHY things happen that we may not yet, or may never come to understand. Just believe. I will miss New England, and more than anything, I’ll be missing the smiles on those kids whom I visited and acted like a goofball in front of. It was ALL worth it. God bless.”

Pleasant and positive 'til the end, he even ended the post with a smiley-face emoticon.

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Dave D'Onofrio follows Boston's pro players away from the field, court or ice, covering their interests and activities in the community and beyond. A Massachusetts native, once his dreams of More »

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