“Robert spoke about that situation recently. I’ll let his words stand for the organization. I have nothing to add.”
That’s what Bill Belichick probably wants to say at his press conference on Wednesday when he’s asked for the first time about ex-Patriot Aaron Hernandez. But saying that will only ensure that Hernandez, Belichick and the Patriots will live on in future news cycles for who knows how long.
I’m not saying Belichick “owes” the public or the media any comment on Hernandez. He’s not an elected official drawing his salary from taxpayer money. He’s a football coach, an integral part of a successful, privately-owned franchise.
I am saying that, in this instance, it behooves Belichick to speak frankly and succinctly about how the Patriots either misjudged or were “duped” by Hernandez, express regret for getting played, and move on.
At Belichick’s behest, the Patriots employed a kid with a checkered past they thought they could manage. That they couldn’t manage him is not their fault. That they took the chance is something they obviously regret and saying so is all that need be done.
Kraft owns the team but Belichick is its symbolic chief. You may have noticed, though, that Belichick is stubborn. He won’t give the media its pound of flesh to satiate them because, in the end, he knows he’s going to be damned and criticized either way.
In the days after a Patriots employee was hauled off the sidelines for taping the signals of the Jets defensive coaches, Belichick spent his press conferences stonewalling questions and saying he was “moving on to San Diego.” It was the wrong approach and an infraction equal to jaywalking morphed into a capital offense because the media was allowed to go in any direction it wanted with its speculation.
The circumstances now are obviously different. But the situation is similar. The quickest way for the Patriots to move on from Hernandez and into the 2013 football season is to acknowledge whatever regret needs to be acknowledged and be done with it.