NFL Teams Are Not Wasting Time Cutting Trouble

Has enough been made of the Aaron Hernandez case? Not nearly. Speculation can be intriguing. Evidence can be damning. Actions, though, are everlasting. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots’ decision to cut ties with Hernandez, as swiftly as the cuffs appeared, has been the most impactful action for the NFL in this case. The league has suffered and reemerged from similar wounds. This will not be the last time an NFL player is accused of our nation’s most reprehensible crime. This could, however, mark the last time an NFL team wastes a precious second considering whether or not to hold on to a player accused of murder.

Belichick has made a career setting precedents, especially pertaining to his locker room and brand. Robert Kraft has saved millions in brand awareness merely by letting Bill do things his way. Was anyone truly surprised when the Pats cut Randy Moss after a disarming press conference? How about when Wes Welker threw in the subtle foot jokes with Jets head coach Rex Ryan? At the start of the next game, the Patriots best wide out found himself on the sidelines, not catching passes from Tom Brady. The media will not be the circus it was to the Jets when Tebow kneels in Foxborough. Bill Belichick continues to make the choices that the everyman swears he would on his sofa. Belichick knows what we know: The cost of losing Hernandez on the field is completely outweighed by the standard he sets cutting him.

The Patriots have taken an even further step by announcing that on July 6th and 7th; fans can exchange Aaron Hernandez jersey’s bought at their online store or pro shop for a jersey of equal or lesser value. It’s a really classy act by the Patriots who are trying to separate themselves and their logo from Hernandez. Patriots spokesperson Stacey James told the Boston Herald, “We know that children love wearing their Patriots jerseys, but may not understand why parents don’t want them wearing their Hernandez jerseys anymore “We hope this opportunity to exchange those jerseys at the Patriots ProShop for another player’s jersey will be well-received by parents.”

The Cleveland Browns were also quick to cut Ausar Walcott, a free agent rookie who had just signed with the team. Walcott is charged with attempted murder after a fight outside of a New Jersey nightclub last week.

Too many teams fear taking a losing swing. Jerry Jones has barely touched the Josh Brent situation in Dallas and many are urging the Cowboys to follow the Patriots lead by cutting the defensive lineman. Brent just tested positive for marijuana for the second time so he will now await trial for intoxication manslaughter in prison rather than out on bond. I’m not sure I can blame Jones, which is all the more reason to salute Belichick. As sure we are that we’d do the right thing, do you think you could pull the trigger as fast as Bill did? I sure don’t.

The Patriots and Browns have given other NFL teams the right not to wait. Every second that a team rests waiting for the legal system to take its course, is another tear in the emblem. Even if Hernandez is remarkably acquitted, every possible catch he makes in the future will be met with questions. Do I want to cheer? Should I be paying for this? The Patriots and Browns are out of the question business, and the NFL should take a few notes.

Thanks for reading

Jake Springer
Awesome Sports Logos columnist