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Michael Floyd and The Patriot Way

The newest acquisition for the New England Patriots is yet another example of The Patriot Way at work.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When the New England Patriots claimed Michael Floyd off waivers after he was released by the Arizona Cardinals following a DUI arrest, there were mixed feelings. Some thought that it was a great move, as the former first round pick has the tools and the talent to be a factor in an already potent Patriots offense. Others questioned the move, not only because of the amount of money New England has to pay for what is essentially a late-season rental, but because of the fact that Floyd was driving while impaired and thus shows that he may lack judgment and a sense of accountability for his actions.

Now, with recent footage of Floyd's arrest now available online, those who feel that bringing Floyd into New England represents a departure from the way that the Patriots usually do things have even more reason to double down on their beliefs. Many are quick to point to the hypocrisy in claiming "The Patriot Way" while signing a guy who really, really shouldn't have been driving and was thus endangering himself and everyone around him. Driving while intoxicated is absolutely inexcusable at any level, and that goes triple for someone in Floyd's position who can more than afford cab fare home and can then send for someone to pick one of his several cars up the next day. So that the Patriots brought Floyd in on the heels of what is some pretty damning footage can be viewed as phony, insincere, and proof positives that the Patriots are just as scummy as every other team in the league that has no problem hiring criminals and degenerates, just so long as they help you win games.

I'm not going to sit here and say that the Patriots are comprised entirely of upstanding young men; this is the NFL we're talking about here. Every team, New England included, has its share of guys who, under different circumstances, you pray would never move onto your block. That's just the reality of the sport and the league, and the Patriots are very much in there with everyone else in that regard. However, to say that signing Michael Floyd is some kind of backthinking, hypocritical act of underhandedness that proves once and for all that The Patriot Way is some kind of media-generated sham is simply not true. The Patriot Way is not, and never has been, about only signing guys with squeaky clean backgrounds and skeleton-less closets. If that was the case, there'd be nobody on the roster at all. The Patriot Way is all about buying into the system, doing your job, and behaving yourself while you're here, regardless of where you came from.

The Patriots don't care what you did, who you were, or how you acted before you set foot in their locker room. They are willing to overlook a history of being a malcontent, or a spotty criminal record, or overall impressions that you aren't someone that any team in its right mind would touch with a thirty foot pole. If you're a player who is viewed as dirty or a cancer, that's OK with the Patriots. Whatever you brought to the table prior to joining the team is irrelevant. Because if you're willing to straighten up, do things the way that Belichick wants you to do them, and keep your nose clean in the process, the Patriots are your shot at redemption. At turning your reputation around. At becoming a player known throughout the league not for his off-the-field misdeeds, but for his on-field accomplishments. The Patriots are willing to give any player, regardless of past transgressions, that opportunity. Some of them, like Randy Moss and Corey Dillon, embrace that opportunity and find tremendous success. Others, like Albert Haynesworth, don't buy in and are swiftly dismissed. Not everyone that Belichick brings in magically turns it all around; he has certainly had his fair share of misses. But he is still willing to give these guys a shot, and that's what The Patriot Way really stands for. In the murky moral ground of the NFL, the Patriots are a tenuous dry spot where players, if they choose, are given a length of rope. Whether they use that rope to pull themselves out of the mud or hang themselves is up to them. The Pats just provide the platform.

Is the Michael Floyd video a good look? Not even a little bit, and thank Tebow nobody was hurt as a result of his reckless, selfish, foolish, and dangerous actions. And would Floyd have been cut in a heartbeat if he was a Patriot at the time? I strongly believe so. But he wasn't a Patriot. Not yet. And because of that, he's getting a clean slate and a chance to prove that he can adhere to a different set of standards. Whether he'll be able to do that remains to be seen, and if he can't, you can bet that he'll be gone. But to simply dismiss Floyd as a lost cause and proclaim that any team who picks him up is somehow enabling and tacitly encouraging that kind of behavior is being a little short-sighted.

Time will tell if Floyd has learned his lesson and is going to buy in. But I for one am glad to have him on the team, and very much hope he works out. And for his sake, I hope he realizes what a massive mistake he made and is planning on taking advantage of the opportunity given to him.