Patriots Still Have Plenty of Work To Do On Club's Brand Image After Hernandez Arrest
The Patriots franchise is "going to great lengths to disassociate itself" from former TE Aaron Hernandez, but it "isn't that simple and can't be that neat," according to Ashley Fox of ESPN.com. The club has "acted wisely and admirably" following the arrest of Hernandez on a murder charge, but it "can't be forgotten that New England was the organization that employed Hernandez." Patriots Owner Robert Kraft is "one of the most respected owners in the NFL, yet his organization -- his brand -- is now indelibly tarnished." The Patriots "can and will overcome this, but there will forever be a stain on the franchise that neither the swift release of Hernandez nor the exchange of jerseys can erase." The franchise "needs to recalibrate and be more selective going forward, starting now" (ESPN.com, 7/1). In Providence, Bill Reynolds writes the feeling is that the Patriots' brand has been "severely damaged, no small thing for a franchise that always has been so conscious of public relations." Reynolds: "That will be the legacy of this tragedy. Never again will we look at the Patriots in quite the same way." The Hernandez story -- "however it plays out -- will always be part of this team’s DNA, always part of the Patriots’ story" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 7/2).
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP: In Boston, Karen Guregian writes, "One has to wonder if the Pats will change their philosophy when looking at red-flag candidates, particularly the ones with gang ties and gun violations." One former NFL GM said, "I’m sure they’ll still take chances in the draft. I don’t know if they’ll be gun-shy, but I’m sure before they give an extension, what happened with Hernandez will give them pause for concern" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/2). Meanwhile, ESPN's Chris Mortensen said the financial impact of the Patriots cutting Hernandez is "really negligible." In terms of Hernandez' salary-cap hit, "it's not going to have an impact on the team from that perspective" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 7/1).
RED FLAGS: Bengals President Mike Brown yesterday said that the team "intentionally passed on selecting Hernandez in the 2010 draft." Brown said, "That one is no secret. We just stayed away from it." He added, "We're not going to know everything about our players once they leave the premises nor should we. They have the right to their privacy and to live their lives as they see best so long as they don't step over a line." FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez notes Brown is "dismayed that so much media attention" is being given to the NFL’s offseason arrests "when the societal rate among non-players in the same age and demographic groups is far higher." Brown: "You’d think we were an aberration. We might be, but actually an aberration on the good side. This might be saying something about us, but it also says something about the country as a whole" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/1).
UP FOR BID: FOXSPORTS.com's Peter Schrager noted a "previously worn medium size Nike Hernandez jersey ... was listed at $305" yesterday on eBay. There are "multiple bids currently in play." A signed Hernandez jersey is "going for $690 and has over 70 bids in action." Across the web, signed Hernandez items like "football cards and mini helmets, were being hocked for prices more than they were prior to his arrest last week" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/1).