Shifting Standards or Media Creation?

The philosophy has changed!!!

By now, you’ve surely heard the outcry from those who claim that the Patriots have changed their standards on player character. Moral arbiters such as Dan Shaughnessy and John Dennis are coming out strong in their sanctimonious outrage over the selection of Brandon Meriweather in the first round on Saturday and the trade for Randy Moss on Sunday. (Sanctimonious is the word that Shaughnessy used this morning to describe the Patriots standards.)

These critics are saying that the Patriots have set aside their standards, that they can no longer stand on the “moral high ground” that they’ve claimed in the past and that this a major shift in their emphasis on only bringing in “character guys.” Shaughnessy goes so far as to say that public perception of the Patriots has forever changed.

It seems that what people will stretch to make the point of a story gets further and further from the truth each time. Do the Patriots value character? Absolutely!

But have you ever heard Bill Belichick or Scott Pioli make an especially big deal about the philosophy on character? Other when praising a specific player? I don’t think so.

How long a list can you make of players with supposed character issues who were brought here the last few years? A dozen?

While the Patriots do indeed put an emphasis on having a lot of “character guys,” the idea that they only target these types of players is just another media creation.

Do Meriweather and Moss come here with “baggage?” Sure seems that way. However, it didn’t prevent the Patriots from adding them to the roster.

Let’s go back three years to April 2004 when the Patriots traded for Corey Dillon. Note the reaction back then to the move. It was being said that the Dillon trade “signals a sharp change in the way Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick do business.” Agent Brad Blank said the “Patriots misled him and all of New England by promoting that they go for strictly ‘character guys.'” Gerry Callahan was ripping the Patriots from pillar to post over the move.

So isn’t all the outrage and talk about shifting standards just recycled material? Sure seems that way. Interestingly, Ron Borges was on-board with the Dillon trade. Note what he says in closing:

Dillon will be arguably the most talented running back to wear New England's colors. With the draft still five days away, it is already a success because you cannot draft a proven commodity like Corey Dillon with any pick.

Replace Dillon’s name with Moss’ and “running back” with “wide receiver” and you have an interesting statement.

But to the current situation, at least today Michael Felger admits that he is a hypocrite:

Bottom line question: Have Moss and Meriweather brought the Pats one step closer to the Super Bowl? Unequivocally. And if you aren’t looking forward to watching Brady throw the ball up to Moss in the end zone, you don’t have a pulse. For those of us who’ve been calling for the Pats to be more aggressive and add more front-line talent, it’s a little hypocritical to be complaining now. We asked for it.

One last bit from Shaughnessy:

But the public perception of the Patriots -- something very dear to Kraft -- is forever changed. His football men successfully bounced the Red Sox-Yankees off the landscape for a couple of days (which Kraft is obsessed with)

What a laugh I got out of that. The Red Sox are infamous for the perception that they’ll do anything they can to overshadow the Patriots. If anyone is obsessed with this concept, it’s the Red Sox.