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Editorial: New England Patriots made the right move

Published 9:24am Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Professional sports teams are correct when they fire players who have been arrested for felonies and violent crimes, even if they haven’t been convicted.

Yes, suspects are innocent until proven guilty. And, yes, people make mistakes, including law enforcement. Just ask Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson about off-duty Houston police officers.

But there also is a line — a pretty wide one, in fact — between confusion at a nightclub and homicide charges faced by New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez, charges that required multiple searches of his home in regard to the death semipro football player Odin Lloyd.

How does a person get themselves in that tangled web of being charged with murder in the first place? Or even connected to the case? The vast majority of professional athletes manage to stay away from the world of crime. They learn quickly this is their shot at the limelight and big bucks. Stay home. Play video games. Watch a movie. Go play football. Collect the checks. Raise a family.

It’s sad to see players who have used sports to climb out of poverty and crime-riddled neighborhoods fall deeply back into that same world all over again. They have the world by the tail, and then they stumble.

The NFL this summer has had a nasty string of crime news about its players. Thirty-one have been arrested since the Super Bowl.

Some fans and friends, including teammate Deion Branch, have stood up for Hernandez’s innocence.

That’s fine. But don’t expect the Patriots to be obliged to stand up for anyone charged with murder. They feel betrayed.

Name any job where the employer would keep an employee charged with murder on the payroll until the verdict was rendered. It’s rare, that’s for sure. It’s a futile argument to say the Patriots shouldn’t have cut Hernandez.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has forked over millions to Hernandez for his football services, said it well: “If this stuff is true, I’ve been duped, and our whole organization has been duped.”