Cris Collinsworth took some time during NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast last weekend to praise the New England Patriots for getting previously troubled players to fall into line. He was talking specifically about cornerback Aqib Talib, which makes sense given the way Talib has stayed out of trouble since New England traded for him last season. However, Collinsworth seemed to completely ignore some guy who is currently in jail after being charged with murder.
During an appearance on “Amani and Eytan” on NBC Sports Radio Tuesday, Collinsworth tried to clarify what he meant.
“I took a little heat in the game for saying (Bill Belichick) has a way of making issues go away,” he said. “A guy like (Patriots cornerback) Alfonzo Dennard still had an issue. (Bellichick) is not a cure-all. He’s not a magician out there. But they do seem to not have problems to the same extent playing for him.
“Some of it’s fear. Some of those guys, one more mistake and their career is going to be over. Nobody works that better than Belichick does. When you first come to that team, even if you’re a seven-year veteran, you don’t talk to the media. Some of those guys are more afraid of doing a press interview than they are of black cats and ghosts. They know if they screw up they’re gonna catch hell from Belichick.”
As I said before, I understand the point Collinsworth is trying to make. He just happens to be making it a season too late. Plenty of players who were known to have off-field issues have joined the Patriots and done nothing but produce. However, the team knew of Hernandez’s troubled past but drafted and signed him anyway. They also took a chance on cornerback Alfonzo Dennard after his issues at Nebraska, and he has another court date upcoming for suspicion of DUI.
Belichick loves trying to find value in talented players who have had issues off the field. Guys like Talib, Randy Moss and Corey Dillon are examples of that approach working out. Hernandez is the other end of the spectrum.