The Patriots’ trade for Josh Gordon sparked a million takes, varying in levels of heat, across all forms of media. Peter King’s take on the deal, which he dropped on the world during an interview with WEEI in Boston, just might’ve been the hottest…
“I was not high on it at all,” he said. “The history of Josh Gordon is beyond riddled with off-field issues, substance abuse, consistently letting the team down that drafted him and continually, time after time showed faith in him and brought him back – I thought it was a bad trade quite honestly. The Patriots might get something good out of him, and if they don’t get anything good out of him then it is almost nothing ventured nothing gained.
“The Patriots are a proud franchise, and I realize what I am saying is a little bit of idealistic crapola, but the Patriots should not be in business with Josh Gordon. He is not worthy of this franchise.”
He is not worthy of this franchise.
Yes, that is “idealistic crapola.” It’s a heaping pile of it, not just a “little bit.” I’m not one of those people who think the Patriots are evil cheaters. I respect the success they’ve had on the field over the last two decades. They have been really good at football. But off the field, they’ve had their fair share of issues. No more than any other franchise, but the franchise’s reputation is not beyond reproach. Signing a guy with substance abuse issues is not beneath them.
In August 2005, Randy Moss admitted to using marijuana. Two years later, with his reputation in the dirt and people openly questioning his dedication to football, he joined the Patriots.
The Patriots have been fined for cheating. Twice. Whether or not those fines were completely justified is up for debate, but they are undoubtedly attached to the legacy of the franchise. New England’s best receiver is currently serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Former team captain Rob Ninkovich was suspended for PEDs, too. Rob Gronkowski told racist jokes that were so bad NESN had to cancel the broadcast of David Ortiz’s roast. The team didn’t bother to look into Matt Patricia’s past before employing him for 14 years.
The “crapola” here is that the Patriots’ winning is spawned by some amorphous “culture” rather than an unparalleled genius at head coach paired with a ruthlessly efficient QB. A lot tends to fall in place when you have that. And still the Patriots are hardly pristine.
You can make a similar list for every team in the league. Late Steelers owner Dan Rooney said this after James Harrison was charged with assaulting his girlfriend in 2008.
Via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“What Jimmy Harrison was doing and how the incident occurred, what he was trying to do was really well worth it,” he said of Mr. Harrison’s initial intent with his son. “He was doing something that was good, wanted to take his son to get baptized where he lived and things like that. She said she didn’t want to do it.”
The Steelers are still considered a model franchise.
The Giants extended the contract of Josh Brown after finding out about the domestic abuse allegations against him, and are still considered a classy organization.
The point is, every NFL franchise has warts. Some teams just have enough Lombardi trophies to cover them up. The Patriots are no different.
There is no such thing as the Patriots Way. Or, at least, not in the sense that is typically discussed. Bill Belichick doesn’t even use the phrase has said he doesn’t know what it means. The Patriot Way has never had anything to do with character or off-field behavior or whatever virtues people like Peter King attach to it. It’s always been about winning football games. Belichick seems to think trading for Gordon will help New England do that. For that reason alone, he is “worthy of this franchise.”
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