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Are Patriots ever going to address Aaron Hernandez embarrassment?

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  July 3, 2013 12:56 PM

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Still waiting. Silence from Patriot Place.

Oh, yes, the New England Patriots have acted and released Aaron Hernandez in the wake of his murder allegations, describing the process as “the right thing to do,” but no member has yet to speak about the matter publicly and shed some light on how an organization that preaches righteousness swung and missed like Mark Bellhorn when it came to determining their tight end’s character. A week ago, the transaction seemed logical. But with every hour producing a new tale of just how messed up Hernandez is, it’s only logical to wonder how much the Patriots knew, and how much they ignored.

I mean, you don’t just deliver $40 million contracts out of faith.

Instead, we know what we’ll get. Bill Belichick will take the podium later this month at the dawn of training camp and dodge every question tossed his way with regards to “what’s best for the team,” the same way he deftly handled the New Hampshire political reporters and whatever other ratings-grabbing brigade was sent to Foxborough on the first day of Tim Tebow coverage. It’s what Bill does best, after all. And it’s tired.

“It is what it is” ain’t what it was in this particular case. The more we learn about Hernandez’s past, the more the Patriots owe us all an explanation. How exactly was their judgment clouded so impeccably, even as former teammates like Matt Light opine in the aftermath about what a bad guy he was? With all due apologies to the salacious hound dogs at the Patriots’ temple over at Boston Sports Media Watch, the status quo that Belichick preaches won’t cut it.

The fans and the rest of the NFL deserve more knowledge than that.

It’s difficult to believe that the Patriots, a franchise that has prided itself on background checks, didn’t know that there was more to Hernandez than met the eye. Hell, the marijuana issues aside, Hernandez’s past reads like a Spenser novel. How soon until we get an Aaron Hernandez special edition of “Clue?”

The Patriots want to lead you to believe that they had a model, reformed citizen on their hands in Hernandez, that any troubled past was merely a matter of puff, puff, pass the dutchie on the left-hand side and nothing more. His teammates sure seemed to know. How did his employers miss the boat so egregiously?

Fans will line up this weekend to exchange their “Pro Shop-purchased” Hernandez jerseys during the Patriots’ PR stint to put the past behind them. It’s OK to continue wearing it apparently if you bought your jersey at Sports Authority. If the Pats were serious about ridding the streets and stands of its tainted criminal’s name on people’s backs, no questions should be asked. They can handle that as they deftly proved with Hernandez.

There has to be a disgruntled backlash in the locker room, and not just because the team released a guy for reasons other than having diabetes. Hernandez’s criminal past could have affected Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, or any other teammate the same way it did victim Odin Lloyd. What if Stevan Ridley was the one to find out that Hernandez may have murdered two people in cold blood last summer? Do you think he would skirt any sort of cover up from a guy who theoretically took three days to plot Lloyd’s murder and still butchered the process so badly that the likes of Clouseau would consider the case a waste of time?

To say the Patriots made a huge error in tossing their good faith at Hernandez is an understatement, yet we’ve heard nothing from the owner, the coach, or the quarterback about how they went so astray. Unless you’ve already Hale-Bopped your allegiance, doesn’t that make you in the least bit frustrated?

Sorry, the Patriots owe you that much.

This is no longer a matter of what did they know and when did they know it, but a situation that needs some semblance of closure from the franchise. They were the ones who took a fourth-round flyer when nobody else would, after all. They were the ones who awarded him with millions just days within a suspected double murder. They were the ones who kept him around, the reason he was in our community.

Three men are dead that we know of. Who knows what the evening will bring.

One thing we’re pretty sure of, it won’t include a Patriots apology or admittance of fault. That’s not the Patriot Way, of course. Then again, as we’re rapidly discovering, the Patriots Way is a bogus load of tripe.

And we continue to wait, as an exposed institution shows its true, cowardly colors.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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