With Alfonzo Dennard arrested Thursday morning on suspicion of DUI, we will soon find out if the team has entered a zero tolerance (or close to zero tolerance) zone for players getting themselves into jams.
The humiliation and embarrassment the team has admitted to feeling in the wake of Aaron Hernandez’s murder arrest can’t mean good things for Dennard.
Because -- like Hernandez in 2010 -- Dennard was a bargain draft pick, a seventh-rounder in 2012 because of an arrest for whacking a cop a week before the draft.
Three months ago, Dennard was given a 30-day jail sentence and two years of probation after being found guilty of assaulting a police officer in that case. The judge indicated at the time that the 30 days could be suspended if Dennard stayed out of trouble.
The courts will determine if Dennard was indeed operating under the influence. And any action by the judge as to probation violations would presumably be contingent on that.
In a different time, the Patriots would likely take the same approach. And they may still. But Dennard’s arrest coming just two days after Robert Kraft had to engage in a soul-mining explanation of how he was duped by Hernandez has to have ownership sending “WTF!!!!????” texts to Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio.
Dennard was a risk when he was drafted. In my opinion, a risk worth taking given the fact his arrest last April was a first offense. Every interaction I had with him this past season only solidified my opinion he’s a good kid.
But his decision-making while drinking seems to be poor. And it’s exhibited itself in the most tenuous time for the New England Patriots since Bill Belichick was hired.
So even though Dennard is a good player who emerged as a starter at cornerback last season, the ice could be cracking under his feet. And that’s not even getting into what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office may hand down to Dennard as his OUI case moves forward.
The league could consider Dennard a repeat violator of the personal-conduct policy, even though his initial arrest came before the 2012 draft.
Meanwhile, training camp can’t get here soon enough for the Patriots brass which is probably starting to dread checking its phones in the morning while their young employees are in the field and away from base camp.