The New England Patriots Summer of Pain just got a little more painful.
Early Thursday morning, starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was arrested by police in Lincoln, Nebraska on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence, the second time in a little more than a year that the talented yet apparently immature defensive back has been in police custody.
Just prior to the 2012 draft, Dennard was arrested outside of a Lincoln nightclub after punching a plain-clothed police officer during a scrum with another patron. The incident caused the projected second round pick to fall completely off many teams’ draft boards and probably would have gone undrafted had the Patriots not selected him as an afterthought in the 7th round.
At the time he was drafted, coach Bill Belichick said that after doing extensive research and interviews on the University of Nebraska product he was comfortable with Dennard’s situation and that the cop punching incident was “not who we believe he is”, and his success on the field became a much needed personnel success story for New England.
Now he’s just another punch in the nose for a Patriots’ franchise that was already bleeding
During the sentencing hearing for his assault conviction, Judge Stephanie Stacy agreed that she would listen to motions to suspend Dennard’s jail sentence should he comply with all of the terms of his probation. It’s not clear how this latest episode will impact Dennard’s 30 day sentence on the felony conviction, if at all, but one has to think that any chance he had at having his jail sentence reduced or suspended is now gone – and, in fact, the terms of his probation may be revisited by the court…
…up to and including the court remanding Dennard to a correctional facility to serve his probationary period behind bars, the order including terms that he refrain from breaking any more laws including “disorderly conduct or acts injurious to others.” It’s too early to know whether prosecutors will move to have Dennard’s probation revoked, but if they do, it could mean that the promising corner could lose the 2013 season, at the very least.
There was no stipulation in the terms that prevents him from consuming alcohol, but drunk driving is a different matter all together.
Dennard refused to submit to a chemical test upon being pulled over by Lincoln Police and failing a field sobriety test, which is within his rights to do, and he landed in the detox portion of the jail and not in a cell. Dennard’s lawyer refused comment but the Patriots issued a statement expressing disappointment at the news.
The Patriots, who were already in full damage control mode due to the Aaron Hernandez release after he was arrested and charged with Murder, now will take even more heat for taking a chance on a troubled player that apparently has an issue with alcohol, given his history…
…and it’s just a matter of time that the media starts making a big deal out of the alcohol / nightclub angle. Whether fair or not, the spotlight is about to land very heavily on Dennard, a victim of his own poor judgement and also of former Patriots’ tight end Aaron Hernandez’s arrest for murder a few weeks ago, which already had the media in full rabid froth and violently attacking the Patriots’ character.
Earlier this spring, tight end Rob Gronkowski took some heat for drunkenly wrestling on stage in a night club, showing little regard for his broken and casted forearm – Hernandez’s violent life choices also have either occurred at a night club or shortly after leaving or as a result of something that occurred at a club, and now Dennard adding to his rap sheet.
Professional athletes becoming suddenly rich and getting themselves into trouble is hardly a new thing, but for a Patriots organization that prides itself for employing only people of character, the fact that Hernandez is apparently a murderous multiple felon put the tight-lipped Patriots under intense scrutiny and delivered a big black eye for the franchise.
Patriots fans have got to be feeling like they’re being let down by the players that they expected to lead them into a 2013 season full of promise – and it still is full of promise and the road to the Super Bowl is still attainable for New England despite the latest legal issues…
…but many more potholes that cause them to lose players could also cause an even more rapid exodus from the Patriots’ bandwagon, which is already being abandoned like rats leaving a sinking ship.