Plagiarist Ruins Perfectly Good Rolling Stone Feature

Why’d you do it, Rolling Stone?

After already angering much of Boston last month with the cover story on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the magazine this time ruins an otherwise sterling feature on Aaron Hernandez by allowing plagiarist Ron Borges to sully the work of writer Paul Solotaroff.

While Joe Sullivan was having his Boston Globe writers out talking to private investigators and handwriting experts, Solotaroff was putting together perhaps the most complete investigative profile of Hernandez yet.

Much of the feature is outstanding – it really puts together a lot of the pieces, and background that brought Hernandez to the point where he is now. Where we’ve heard so many disjointed accounts of incidents, the narrative of this story puts them all together in context, along with testimony about Hernandez’s upbringing and the events that put him on this path. It’s really compelling and fascinating material.

But then, out of nowhere, Ron Borges swoops in, takes a steaming dump on the Patriots, and then flies out again.

It really is amazing. You can tell precisely where Borges’ takes over the narrative (the stoop-to-conquer Patriots of Bill Belichick) and when he gives it up. It’s not a smooth transition at all.

Solotaroff brings the piece to the point where the Patriots come into the story – the 2010 NFL Draft. Then this;

Time was, the Pats were the Tiffany franchise, a team of such sterling moral repute that they cut a player right after they drafted him, having learned he had a history of assaulting women. But Beli-chick, the winner of three Super Bowl titles and grand wizard of the greatest show on turf, had decided long before he got to New England that such niceties were beneath him. Over a decade, he’d been aggregating power unto himself, becoming the Chief Decider on personnel matters. He signed so many players bearing red flags they could have marched in Moscow’s May Day parade (Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, et al.), and began drafting kids with hectic pasts, assuming the team’s vets would police them. Some of this was arrogance, some of it need: When you’re picking from the bottom of the deck each spring, you’re apt to shave some corners to land talent.

The writing style, the tone, everything is completely different from the rest of the piece. It’s all Borges catch-phrases, too.

He continues:

Belichick signed both to big extensions years before their rookie deals expired, giving Hernandez $40 million and Gronkowski $54 million, while stiffing Wes Welker, the slot receiver.

“Stiffing Wes Welker.” How that little tidbit – even if true – is at all relevant to the rest of the story is completely beyond me.

Borges then launches into how Belichick fired Frank Mendes, and “replaced the Pats’ security chief with a tech-smart Brit named Mark Briggs.” (In 2003, mind you, 10 years ago!)  That paragraph ends with a law-enforcement official who “dislikes Briggs” complaining that the Patriots aren’t receptive to tips and it isn’t a friendly environment to call over.

More:

In his first remarks after Odin Lloyd’s murder, Robert Kraft described himself as “duped” by Hernandez, saying he’d had no knowledge of his troubles. That is arrant nonsense: Every team knew him as a badly damaged kid with a circle of dangerous friends and a substance problem. Once a Patriot, Hernandez practically ran up a banner that said STOP ME! I’M OUT OF CONTROL!

Funny, that’s not how Borges himself described Kraft’s initial statements on the case.

Speaking publicly for the first time against the advice of his attorneys, Kraft said he felt the need for the public to hear from the organization — and frankly he is the organization. One can talk all they want about Bill Belichick or anyone else but when push comes to shove one voice dominates all others in Foxboro and it is Kraft’s. The team is still here because he kept it here and it will be here long after Belichick and Tom Brady are gone and so on his first day back in his office he spoke from the heart.

I’m confused; was Kraft speaking from the heat, or was he dishing out arrant nonsense?

And then, POOF, as quickly as Borges swooped in, he’s gone, and Solotaroff wrestles back control of the narrative.

It didn’t have to be that way. By adding Borges to the story, someone with an axe to grind against the franchise, and who left the Boston Globe under a cloud (shouldn’t that have been a RED FLAG?) undermines the effectiveness of the feature.

Question: What does the Boston Herald think about this? How could they not even get an exclusive excerpt out of the fact that their writer was working on this? How can they not be pissed?

Some other points:

We know what the sports radio talking points will be:

The flophouse was Belichick’s idea, Mike!!!

They knew what a scumbag he was, and looked the other way!
If Belichick didn’t arrogantly fire the security director, no one would’ve been killed!

He was walking around the locker room high on angel dust, and they did nothing about it!

So all those locals (Media especially) who swore they would never again read a word that Rolling Stone published after the Tsarnaev cover are going to completely ignore this article right?

Lots of suggestion that Urban Meyer covered stuff up at Florida, but seemingly not a lot of sourcing.  Nor specific details.

Angel dust? One source, and a cop from Bristol who says it was a problem in the city.

The thing about this is, while there is a ton of detailed about Hernandez’s life, when it comes to his Patriots tenure, material prior to this spring is not in abundance. Points about the combine meeting, (how many sources on that one, I wonder?) the missed workouts, the threatened release, those are new. Otherwise, there besides unnamed friends saying Hernandez smoked several blunts while driving home after every game, there isn’t much that seems to indict the organization.

About That Globe Feature On The Private Detectives…

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Really?

I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when the concept for this story was being  tossed around.

I get that the Aaron Hernandez case is one of the most sensational murder cases that we’ve had around these parts in some time. I get that stories about it are going to be written and are going to attract attention and be well-read.

But this story, and the accompanying piece using handwriting analysis on Hernandez’s jailhouse letters are just ludicrous. This is not really to insult to Shira Springer, who I sort of get the feeling is laughing at the subjects she’s writing about in these stories, but the Globe could not have teed up a better tailor-made story to slap at the Patriots than this one.

The only surprise about it is that it didn’t appear two Sundays from now, on the morning of the Patriots opener at Buffalo. We can only wonder what Joe Sullivan has planned for that day.

So read these, and tell me there isn’t an intentional theme that is being pushed here:

“To say Kraft only knows what’s going on in the building, it’s like having blinders and earmuffs on,” said private investigator Bob Long. “Is that all he wants to know?”

“A lot of teams are willing to take some risk. They keep their fingers crossed that nothing happens and have blinders on and earmuffs on and hope nothing blows up. Well, in this case, it did.”

“It sounds unfathomable that something wasn’t done before they re-signed him.”

“Over the years, I have discussed doing background due diligence for certain sports teams,” said private investigator and attorney John Nardizzi, whose company, Nardizzi & Associates Inc., has conducted roughly a dozen athlete-background checks for professional teams. “The response from some who say they recognize the value of such research, but decline to do it, is that they believe their contacts on the ground — former coaches, ex-players who are with the college or team and ‘knew the guy real well’ — are in a superior position when assessing character.”

“I don’t think it’s a question of [giving them] advice. Some of them I just don’t think believe it’s really important, so they’re not going to do it. They’re willing to take a risk with cowboys, villains, and gamblers and say, ‘This is the team that we’re going to field.’ They’re not too worried about everything else.”

So the Patriots were a) lazy, b) cheap, c) negligent d) arrogant and e) enabling.

But they’re not being blamed for this, no, not at all.

The sources in this article are businessmen trying to sell their services. This tragedy could’ve been prevented if they had just hired us! Free advertising!

Meanwhile, I get that Jerry Remy is an extremely nice guy, a private person, and a media member – all of which make him pretty much untouchable, even though he is a public figure.

Are we going to see anything about how all three of his children have had violence issues with the law, including the latest of his son being charged with the murder of the mother of his child?

I’m not saying there should be. I have no desire to see an article of that type. I don’t think Remy should be subject to that kind of scrutiny. But at the same time, the Globe and others are going all-in with this theory that murder could’ve been prevented had the Patriots been more diligent in monitoring their employee during his off hours, but there will be nothing said about a father’s role in the behavior of his own children, and if such a suggestion is even made, it is dismissed as a private matter?

I saw this over the weekend – Time For A Change In NESN Booth – from WBZ-TV sports producer Scott Sullivan, but Sullivan’s premise is as much about Remy’s performance in the booth as it is about his family issues. I don’t agree really, I don’t think Remy should have to give up his job, and I don’t want to see him put through the type of scrutiny the Patriots are being put under, it just seems unbalanced to me to be pursuing one with zeal and not even mentioning the other.

Patriots Mauled In Detroit, Sox To Face Dodgers

The Patriots put on an incredibly inept display of football last night, as they lost to the Detroit Lions 40-9 in their third preseason game.

Not much good to take out of this one, you can catch up on the gory details at PatriotsLinks.com.

Almost as bad as the game was this halftime “interview” by Steve Burton. WOW.

The Red Sox are in Los Angeles to face the Dodgers, the team that helped them completely change the future direction of their franchise with the blockbuster trade last August.

Consider the alternatives: Where would Red Sox be without golden wrecking ball offered by Dodgers? – Alex Speier looks at how the Red Sox might’ve proceeded had the Dodgers not bailed them out all at once with the trade.

A year later, effects of Red Sox-Dodgers trade still felt – Peter Abraham also offers his thoughts on the impact of the deal.

Tonight’s game (10:10om) is on NESN, while FOX has tomorrow (4:05pm) and ESPN on Sunday night (8:05pm).

Turning to the media side of things, there are a couple columns today:

Jay Onrait, Dan O’Toole show Fox Sports 1’s promise – Chad Finn gives his initial thoughts on the new sports network, as well as some notes on the latest happenings at WEEI and on Jerry Remy.

Fouracre to host spiritual sports show on Emmanuel Radio – Bill Doyle looks at sports talk of a higher calling being done by the longtime radio voice of Holy Cross football and basketball, Doyle also touches on WEEI and Remy.

Some national notes:

FOX Sports 1 and MLB Productions Collaborate For “Mission October – Each week this series will focus on a postseason contender.

NBC Sports Group To Produce Live On-Site Pre-Game Show Prior To All Notre Dame Football Home Games – The Fighting Irish are going to have their own nationally televised pre and post game shows.

ESPN.com Expands NFL Nation Network with Sites for All 32 NFL Teams – ESPN announced this week that they will have a blogger and site for every NFL team.

Bleacher Report Bolsters NFL Coverage, Fantasy Football Offerings – The blogging network continues its foray into the big time, with recent hires of Mike Freeman, Matt Bowen, Matt Miller, Aaron Nagler, Ty Schalter and Michael Schottey as featured NFL analysts providing year-round, in-depth NFL coverage for the site.