The New England Patriots have taken many hits as it relates to former tight end Aaron Hernandez, as he awaits trial on charges that he murdered his friend, Odin Lloyd. It has cost them in terms of a fairly clean image, while also becoming a huge financial burden in terms of salary cap and financial obligations. Most recently, the Patriots conducted an Aaron Hernandez jersey exchange on Saturday and Sunday, where fans could bring in their No. 81 Patriots Hernandez jerseys and exchange it for another one of similar value. Fans lined up an hour before the pro shop opened and, with over 1,200 exchanges taking place alone on Saturday, the weekend cost the Pats around $250,000. In truth, a small price to pay for doing everything possible to distance themselves and the alleged killer. And while yes, it is a price worth paying, and certainly one that the Patriots could afford, it is still the first gesture of its kind.
All of the New England haters out there can be heard saying, “Big deal. They can take that hit,” or “It is their own fault for drafting him and giving him a long term deal,” how about applauding them for one second for doing something that other teams have failed to do. With that being said, here are 5 other NFL teams who should have beaten the Patriots to the punch and conducted a jersey exchange of their own following other tragic incidents involving NFL players:
5. Lawrence Phillips, St. Louis Rams – It is not that the Rams were Phillips’ final NFL team. Three others took a swing and a miss on the troubled Nebraska Cornhusker. But St. Louis drafted him No. 6 overall when the team was owned by a female. How she could draft a person with Phillips’ past is beyond me, and all jerseys should have been exchanged after the team released him following just two seasons.
4. Leonard Little, St. Louis Rams – Contrary to popular belief, I am not simply piling on the Rams. But this is another instance of a player who should not have had his name on anybody’s jersey following an incident in 1998 that saw Little drive drunk and kill a woman.
3. Eugene Robinson, Atlanta Falcons – It was not as if his crime was nearly as bad as what most players have committed. But add in the fact that Robinson was just named as the Bart Starr Award winner as the most moral person in the NFL, and then was charged with soliciting an undercover police officer by offering $40 for oral sex, and the Dirty Birds really had a player fitting of the team’s nickname. They should have swapped his jersey out, no questions asked.
2. Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcons – Nope. Not piling on Atlanta either. But, seriously. No No. 7 Falcons jersey should have been on the streets after what Vick did. Granted, many idiots still thought it was cool to sport a Vick jersey with the Falcons, much like many will with Hernandez and the Patriots No. 81 jersey, but the offer at least should have been made.
1. Rae Carruth, Carolina Panthers – Setting up a murder that would kill a woman who was eight months pregnant with his child? Shame on you, Panthers. You should have started this trend.