Toeing the Line: Morality and the Pats

Where do you draw the line on player behavior?

  • I don't want anyone who I know/suspect is a bad person on this team

    Votes: 7 5.9%
  • Any criminal charges or convictions for violent crimes and I want them gone

    Votes: 62 52.5%
  • Any criminal charges or convictions for violent OR non-violent crimes and I want them gone

    Votes: 6 5.1%
  • Any criminal OR credible civil charges and I want them gone

    Votes: 11 9.3%
  • Player morality doesn't impact my enjoyment of the games but I care somewhat because of my kids

    Votes: 12 10.2%
  • Player morality doesn't impact my enjoyment of the games at all nor do I really care

    Votes: 20 16.9%

  • Total voters
    118

BigSoxFan

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This thread is an offshoot of the AB stuff, which I think could warrant a larger discussion. I would like to see where everyone draws the line using my admittedly arbitrary metrics.
 

Ralphwiggum

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The top answer is the closest to how I feel about it, although it doesn't really capture it. "Bad person" is overly broad. I don't need the players to be saints or even good people. But if I strongly suspect they have committed an act of sexual assault or have hit their spouse or child or some other kind of violent crime, I don't need to wait for criminal charges and/or a conviction to want them off the Pats. It's intentionally hard to convict people of crimes, we don't want to put innocent people in jail. I see no reason why the bar should be as high to play in the NFL. I'd rather not root for human shitstains like Tyreek Hill and I'm pretty much there with AB now.

OTOH, certainly there are many non-violent crimes that I don't give a shit about, most drug charges being tops among them. I don't have any issue rooting for Patrick Chung based on what we know right now about what he's accused of.
 

Jimbodandy

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Fuck optics. But if a guy is probably a violent predator, that's enough for me to pass.

Criminal, violent or Credible civil, violent, is what I would vote, if that were there.

And fwiw, I'd prefer "compelling" to "credible" as an adjective there.
 

joe dokes

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Ask me after he catches another TD pass. He's obviously somewhere on the continuum between shitbag and criminal. But I wont know how I feel about him viz my favorite football team until I have a visceral reaction to something he does on the field. I suspect it will be a near-joyless moment, but I can't be sure. I'm not sure I could put a precise finger on why, consistent with any of the above categories. (Violent crimes, of course, is any easy one; I wouldn;t need a TD to sense my reaction.) I'm just sick of his shit. And if I'm sick enough to be not-maximally thrilled at a TD, then its time to go. I'm not the morality police for pro sports. A random team could put Ted Bundy at TE and Ed Gein at DB for all I care. But if I'm a fan of a team, and a player on that team gets in the way of my enjoyment, its different.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Hey, under 20% of the Yankees pitching staff have been accused of being domestic abusers!

And yeah, convicted of a violent crime, I don't want them on my team. I expect a team of Goofuses will beat a team of Gallants more often than not
 

caesarbear

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Jan 28, 2007
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What we all know is that AB is a crazed idiot that's obsessed with money and the Patriots decided to take him on. I think perhaps there's a moral litmus with taking on AB in the first place, but now that he's a Patriot, is there no litmus for how they handle him? Assume AB has not actually committed criminal wrongdoing (repurposing public photos of someone's children can still be explained as a crazed idiot that's obsessed with money.) Assume AB loves and cares for his own children. The Patriots took him on and they chose to deal with him. How does cutting him now further the business interests of the Patriots or the moral responsibility for taking on a crazed idiot that's obsessed with money?
 

bankshot1

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All things being equal, and they usually aren't, I'd rather not have a dirt bag represent the team I root for.

I think the real question is, is morality absolute or relative?

Would you feel the same If 1) a dirt-bag increased your team's chance to win a SB 1% or 2) by 10%

Can your sense of right and wrong be influenced by the outcome of a football game?

I think in general the answer is "yes".
 

bsj

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I dont know that I can bucket my feelings into one of the above. I voted option B, but there are always exceptions, and for someone who seems to be mentally damaged and exhibits a tremendous string of incredibly stupid and damaging things, there comes a point where he loses the benefit of the doubt for me.
 

Koufax

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None of the above. Persuasive evidence of violent crimes or of repeated non-violent crimes involving moral turpitude (theft, for example) would make me want a player off the team whether there was a conviction or not.
 

InstaFace

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I don't think sports teams are the place to police morality. We have a system of laws to worry about criminal action and retribution, including civilly. We have social norms that apply pressure on people to conform to what's expected levels of behavior, and those standards go up the more of a public figure they become. If AB doesn't get endorsement deals and doesn't appear on talk shows, that's on him. But as far as his ability to play football, I don't think the standard should be any different for him than it is for you or me - if we're criminally charged with something awful, we're likely fired too, but until then it's a personal matter.
 

BaseballJones

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Let's say that it turns out that the drummer in your favorite band was a complete and utter a-hole who harassed people, and maybe did some illegal stuff. But you LOVE their music. And the drummer is still with the band and someone offers you great tickets to see them come to town to do a show. At what point would anyone here say, "You know what, I can't go to the show, I can't even listen to their music, and in fact, I don't even like this band anymore, because of the drummer"? Maybe some of us here would do that, I don't know. I tend to think that most of us wouldn't do that with our favorite band. So why would we do it with our favorite football (or baseball or whatever) team?

It just feels like sports are somehow different. I wonder why that is, because at the end of the day, it's just...entertainment. We don't KNOW these people, really. How many of us personally know members of the Patriots? Some of us probably do, I suspect. I know a D-lineman on the Jets personally (I asked him to not hurt Tom this Sunday). And I know about three other NFL players. Out of nearly two thousand NFL players, I know like 5. It's entertainment.

But we do get more personally vested in our sports fandom than we tend to do with music and such.
 

TheoShmeo

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None of the above. Persuasive evidence of violent crimes or of repeated non-violent crimes involving moral turpitude (theft, for example) would make me want a player off the team whether there was a conviction or not.
This is about where I am. The categories in the poll don’t capture what I care about: proof of violence or other serious crimes. With that, get rid of the player. Allegations, even if they seen to be true on their face, and appear to be consistent with preconceived notions about a player, are not enough for me.

To me, this has nothing to do with morality. It’s just a matter of the evidence. If it exists and is compelling, then off with his head. If not, or we are waiting for it to be developed, then he plays.
 

BigSoxFan

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Good comments. Was difficult to come up with 5-6 choices that could potentially encompass the entirety
This is about where I am. The categories in the poll don’t capture what I care about: proof of violence or other serious crimes. With that, get rid of the player. Allegations, even if they seen to be true on their face, and appear to be consistent with preconceived notions about a player, are not enough for me.

To me, this has nothing to do with morality. It’s just a matter of the evidence. If it exists and is compelling, then off with his head. If not, or we are waiting for it to be developed, then he plays.
This is fair. I knew I would miss a category.
 

TheShynessClinic

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And maybe this is relevant, I'm not sure but - I wonder how much the recent events involving players like Tyreek Hill, Zeke Elliott, and others have played into the Patriots handling of this situation.

The allegations against Elliott, and especially Hill are a lot more credible than the allegations against Brown. Both of those players not only remained with their teams, but there's been relatively little blowback (ultimately) on the team for retaining them. Have the Patriots seen that, and done the math that winning a championship is worth X amount more than the financial penalty of rostering a player with issues like Brown.

I generally don't root for players, I root for the laundry. Some players are certainly easier to cheer for than others - but ultimately I care about the Bruins, or the Patriots - not the individuals. The individuals move on, they turn out to be assholes, they do bigger and better things on rivals.

The Patriots may be counting on the fact that there are more people like me than people who care about the individual elements of the greater whole, and realize a championship is more important than the players who helped win it.
 

terrynever

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I’m waiting for the new TV series, a thinly-veiled parody of the Patriots, featuring Tom and Gisele Brady, and their live-in teammate, Anthony Brown. Owner Bob Kraft, still swinging. Crazy players. Great players. And the Good Guys — Mathew Slater, James Develin, etc.
The dynasty has lasted two decades. It is deserving of a TV series.
 

pappymojo

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I don't think that I like Antonio Brown as a person and I find it difficult to root for him during games. However, I feel like my experience as a Patriots fan that went through the media-circus of Deflate-gate is to read sports articles from writers that are outraged over the immoral actions of sports stars with a fairly large grain of salt.

Edit: to be clear I am not referring to sexual assault, but more to the "troubling" lead-up to the Patriots signing of Antonio Brown. I am not convinced that he was more at fault for the way things ended both in Oakland and in Pittsburgh than some of the other actors involved. It's telling to me that some writers were morally outraged that the Patriots signed him even before the civil case was announced. Some of the more recent stuff (such as farting in a doctor's face) seems to be a sort moral-outrage echo chamber.

All that said, conviction for sexual assault goes beyond morality.
 

Reverend

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Ask me after he catches another TD pass. He's obviously somewhere on the continuum between shitbag and criminal. But I wont know how I feel about him viz my favorite football team until I have a visceral reaction to something he does on the field. I suspect it will be a near-joyless moment, but I can't be sure. I'm not sure I could put a precise finger on why, consistent with any of the above categories.
What if he fumbles?
 

E5 Yaz

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That’s not how it works. We punish people based on guilt, not on a sliding scale of how serious charges are.
Unless we suspended them for a few days as a warning before banning them
 

Ed Hillel

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A conviction for a serious violent crime and you’re likely in jail, which takes the choice away. I’m sure I have rooted for many piece of trash humans over the course of my life and I honestly don’t care. I’d rather not know everything about the people I root for. In the end, 99% of what all people will remember are the wins and losses. And if you don’t take the talented dirtbag, someone else will.
 
Feb 8, 2017
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Let's say that it turns out that the drummer in your favorite band was a complete and utter a-hole who harassed people, and maybe did some illegal stuff. But you LOVE their music. And the drummer is still with the band and someone offers you great tickets to see them come to town to do a show. At what point would anyone here say, "You know what, I can't go to the show, I can't even listen to their music, and in fact, I don't even like this band anymore, because of the drummer"? Maybe some of us here would do that, I don't know. I tend to think that most of us wouldn't do that with our favorite band. So why would we do it with our favorite football (or baseball or whatever) team?

It just feels like sports are somehow different. I wonder why that is, because at the end of the day, it's just...entertainment. We don't KNOW these people, really. How many of us personally know members of the Patriots? Some of us probably do, I suspect. I know a D-lineman on the Jets personally (I asked him to not hurt Tom this Sunday). And I know about three other NFL players. Out of nearly two thousand NFL players, I know like 5. It's entertainment.

But we do get more personally vested in our sports fandom than we tend to do with music and such.
Let's say that it turns out that the drummer in your favorite band was a complete and utter a-hole who harassed people, and maybe did some illegal stuff. But you LOVE their music. And the drummer is still with the band and someone offers you great tickets to see them come to town to do a show. At what point would anyone here say, "You know what, I can't go to the show, I can't even listen to their music, and in fact, I don't even like this band anymore, because of the drummer"? Maybe some of us here would do that, I don't know. I tend to think that most of us wouldn't do that with our favorite band. So why would we do it with our favorite football (or baseball or whatever) team?

It just feels like sports are somehow different. I wonder why that is, because at the end of the day, it's just...entertainment. We don't KNOW these people, really. How many of us personally know members of the Patriots? Some of us probably do, I suspect. I know a D-lineman on the Jets personally (I asked him to not hurt Tom this Sunday). And I know about three other NFL players. Out of nearly two thousand NFL players, I know like 5. It's entertainment.

But we do get more personally vested in our sports fandom than we tend to do with music and such.
As a fan of Metallica, your hypothetical scenario is highly appropriate to me. And your overall point is a good one - it really is just entertainment. Probably jerks on every team. Of course, if there’s credible accusation or conviction for a violent crime, that’s a different story.
 

RSN Diaspora

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I don't think that I like Antonio Brown as a person and I find it difficult to root for him during games.
I suspect there are a lot of people who I root for because they wear a Boston team's jersey that I wouldn't want to be in the company of for very long. I've stopped caring. Sports is escapism for me, and while I have no problem cutting bait on anyone who has legit harmed someone else (e.g. the assault allegations against Brown being found to be true), I still root for them for as long as they're playing. I harbor no illusions about the flawless moral character of any pro athlete any more than I do my mechanic. I feel like this is doubly true for the Pats these days--after six rings and league dominance for the better part of two decades, amping up others' hatred is one of the few things that keeps me engrossed in the NFL.
 

InstaFace

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That’s not how it works. We punish people based on guilt, not on a sliding scale of how serious charges are.
We cut Aaron Hernandez right after he was charged and arrested.

A DA filing criminal charges mean that an indepedent, professional 3rd party has decided the charges are serious and credible enough to warrant expenditure of the state's resources in pursuing a conviction. That's not the same thing as guilt, but it's a pretty strong statement that you are, or are about to be, a PR liability to your employer. Unless the charges relate to your actions in a professional capacity, I'd expect your employer to terminate you once you're formally accused of rape or assault or whatever by the state, not wait around for a conviction.

There's certainly a sliding scale of how serious the charges are when it comes to that, as well. Shoplifting and assault-and-battery are not going to be treated the same by anyone. Yes, the legal system will run its course to reach a verdict, but I don't see why an employer must or should wait that long, nor fail to consider the seriousness of the charges (or the evidence presented in the complaint), when deciding whether you should remain in their employ.
 

Reverend

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We cut Aaron Hernandez right after he was charged and arrested.

A DA filing criminal charges mean that an indepedent, professional 3rd party has decided the charges are serious and credible enough to warrant expenditure of the state's resources in pursuing a conviction. That's not the same thing as guilt, but it's a pretty strong statement that you are, or are about to be, a PR liability to your employer. Unless the charges relate to your actions in a professional capacity, I'd expect your employer to terminate you once you're formally accused of rape or assault or whatever by the state, not wait around for a conviction.

There's certainly a sliding scale of how serious the charges are when it comes to that, as well. Shoplifting and assault-and-battery are not going to be treated the same by anyone. Yes, the legal system will run its course to reach a verdict, but I don't see why an employer must or should wait that long, nor fail to consider the seriousness of the charges (or the evidence presented in the complaint), when deciding whether you should remain in their employ.
Oh, I agree with all that. What I meant was, we don’t punish people for being “sorta guilty.” It’s like being sorta pregnant.

That said, that’s often how settlements and plea bargaining work, eh?
 

SeoulSoxFan

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I am more willing to stand by the accused than not, absence of concrete & persuasive evidence.

Perhaps I've watched "12 Angry Men" and "Rashomon" one too many times but as of right now, I do not see such evidence. I'm going to hold any moral judgement until that time comes.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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That’s not how it works. We punish people based on guilt, not on a sliding scale of how serious charges are.
Sorry about bringing the exempt list back into a non-exempt list situation but your post raises an important question about how the NFL seems to view the exempt list (as opposed to suspension).

The PCP's discussion of the exempt list treats it like a leave without pay kind of thing, where the severity of the allegation does matter. That is, the more serious, the more authority the commissioner has to exempt a player pending an investigation.

It is another example of how trying to incorporate these workplace concepts to the NFL's discipline scheme is like putting a square peg in a round hole. In a normal workplace, getting suspended with pay pending and investigation can have consequences to your reputation and stuff, but it's generally acceptable to unions (and maybe even not minded by the accused) because you get paid and you don't have to work. In the NFL, where an all pro may only play 150 games, leave with pay is a bigger deal.
 

BaseballJones

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As a fan of Metallica, your hypothetical scenario is highly appropriate to me. And your overall point is a good one - it really is just entertainment. Probably jerks on every team. Of course, if there’s credible accusation or conviction for a violent crime, that’s a different story.
Well let’s say the drummer for Metallica was found to be credibly accused of sexual assault, but while that was getting sorted out, they kept making music. Would you stop listening? Would you not buy their new songs? (I don’t know if this has actually happened with Metallica)
 

Reverend

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Well let’s say the drummer for Metallica was found to be credibly accused of sexual assault, but while that was getting sorted out, they kept making music. Would you stop listening? Would you not buy their new songs? (I don’t know if this has actually happened with Metallica)
A lot of people turned on Metallica when Lars testified against Napster.
 

Old Fart Tree

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It turned out that one of my favorite players was literally a serial killer, so... I'm kinda through the looking glass on this one.
 
Player morality doesn't impact my enjoyment of the games but I care somewhat because of my kids
Player morality doesn't impact my enjoyment of the games at all nor do I really care

I love that one must have kids to have ethics in this poll. ;)

My choice isn't listed: which is that for the first time in 40+ years after a few seasons' worth of steady erosion, I can no longer enjoy the NFL or even give one bit of it my eyeballs or oxygen or rent in my mind and life, because it I can't stand being complicit any longer with so much trash behavior and bad takes and bad actors among players, coaches, owners, league management, and fans in a growing multiplicity of vectors.

I disagree with those that say they can compartmentalize "on the field" stuff versus all the real-life consequences off the field. Because that's the very nature of complicity. But it's a tribute to those that can somehow still do so (or say they do so) on any given Thursday-Sunday.
 
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SeoulSoxFan

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I'm unlocking the thread, as the topic goes beyond AB. Apologies for locking it in the first place.
 

streeter88

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Somebody in one of the other threads compared the AB experience to wanting to hurl after having food poisoning, and his release to having a cathartic hurl then feeling better. Right on point.

We had one day - one day! - of excitement and anticipation about a transcendent talent joining the WR corps. The very next day, I felt positively ill about the prospect of having someone with what sounded like very credible rape allegations levied against him. And I felt dirty trying to convince myself that he should have his day in court before he should be exempted, released or otherwise.

Then came the accusation by the painter, and the utterly unconscionable bullying behavior in threatening her with photos of her children. With that I am out. AB has to go.

Unfortunately it is very difficult to draw an absolute rule as suggested in the poll, but for me a pattern of abusive or violent behavior by any player - especially towards women or children - makes me not want them anywhere near my team.

Otherwise I might as well root for the Chiefs and their collection of criminals.