NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth is a big fan of “The Patriot Way.” The Sunday Night Football color commentator praised the New England Patriots for their ability to make troubled players’ off-field issues “disappear,” blatantly ignoring the ongoing Aaron Hernandez murder case in the process.
Collinsworth’s comments were in reference to Aqib Talib, a Patriots cornerback who has been a standout performer for the franchise after a series of off-field altercations forced his dismissal from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While in Tampa Bay, the 27-year-old was arrested twice for violent altercations, including a 2009 incident in which he assaulted a taxi driver and a 2011 case in which he allegedly fired a gun at his sister’s boyfriend. However, the once-troubled Talib appears to have flourished under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s structured, team-first atmosphere.
“We all know about Aqib Talib and his history, and what happened in Tampa,” Collinsworth said during Sunday night’s game between the Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. “All Bill Belichick does is, brings them [to New England] and there hasn’t been one ounce of a problem. There’s something about when they come in and play for the Patriots, whatever their issues may have been before, they disappear. They play great football for them and Aqib Talib is at the top of that list.”
However, Collinsworth’s comments ignore the fact that a “troubled” player that the Patriots attempted to “rehabilitate” is currently awaiting trial for his alleged role in the murder of a semi-pro football player.
The Patriots, and, more specifically, Belichick, have earned a reputation for subjecting talented-but-troubled players to the “Patriot Way” -- in which a strictly disciplined environment prevents high-risk players from running into legal issues. Hernandez, who fell to the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft after failing several drug tests and engaging in violent behavior at college, was supposed to be the “poster boy” for the program.
Instead, Hernandez was arrested in June in connection with the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd, a former friend who Hernandez allegedly suspected of collaborating with perceived enemies. The 23-year-old is currently being held without bail and faces five felony charges, including first-degree murder and various gun-related crimes.
It’s likely that Collinsworth simply neglected to consider the Hernandez case when discussing the merits of the Patriots’ player management, but his comments were controversial nevertheless. A video of his exact words can be seen below.