TULSA - Sometimes you just have to wonder what owners of sports franchises really think about the folks who buy the tickets and jerseys and beer and hotdogs and parking...all for ridiculous amounts of money.
I guess if they think we are gullible enough to pay all that cash to watch the teams play, then we are gullible enough to believe anything they say about any subject.
Take New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The multi-millionaire who takes special steps to make sure his reputation is a positive one has been faced with a public relations nightmare with the murder case of his tight end Aaron Hernandez, now charged with the murder of a so-called friend.
This week Kraft was quoted as saying that if Hernandez did in fact kill anyone, he and his entire organization were duped.
Duped, or trying to cover up the fact that his team knew Hernandez was a bad guy, but took a chance because he could catch a football, and score lots of touchdowns. Hernandez was paid millions of dollars for his performances on the football field. Period.
Now Kraft wants us to believe he did not know of Hernandez's past, or at least wasn't consulted about possible red flags on the Hernandez scouting report, or that head coach Bill Belichick couldn't detect from NFL evaluations that the Florida tight end didn't have questionable character issues.
NFL folks I have talked to about the subject have admitted they find it hard to believe, with all the security checks and scouting the NFL does on possible draft choices, that higher ups in the Patriots organization didn't get warning signs.
My colleague Pat Jones echoed that sentiment on our Sports Animal radio show. Too many checks and balances to not know drafting Hernandez was a risk.
If the New England Patriots are as good and solid an organization as we are led to believe, certainly they should have noticed the following....
1. Despite being as talented as Hernandez was at the University of Florida, they should have noticed he was passed on by all the NFL teams until the middle of the fourth round. Truth be told, the Pats were willing to take the chance, but certainly had to have known of his past altercations.
2. An underage 17-year-old Hernandez allegedly refused to pay for alcoholic drinks at a tavern, and reportedly punched the bartender who tried to collect on the bill. The incident was on several NFL scouting reports.
3. According to the Associated Press, a widely used scouting service had Hernandez ranked at the bottom of the scale for social maturity and indicated there could be problems ahead.
4. That same AP report quoted the scouting service report as saying, "Hernandez's responses suggest that he enjoys living on the edge of acceptable behavior and that he may be prone to partying too much and doing questionable things that could be seen as a problem for him and his team." The Wall Street Journal also reported the same from the Human Resources Tactics Psychological Profile.
Another case of a team looking to get an edge by living on the edge. The Patriots are not the first to take the chance, nor will they be the last. But please Mr. Kraft, do not lead us to believe you were duped.
Because we're smarter than that.
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