New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke with the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe about his dedication to stance towards domestic violence abusers. Kraft’s stance originates from the 1996 NFL Draft when Bill Parcells selected Nebraska Christian Peter in the fifth round. Once the Krafts discovered Peters history with violence against women after the draft, they ensured that Peters was removed from the team.
“While I believe in second chances and giving players an opportunity for redemption, I also believe that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right,” Kraft told the Herald. “For me, personally, I believe that privilege is lost for men who have a history of abusing women.”
Now this isn’t a universal rule for the Patriots. New England claimed CB Troy Hill off waivers at the end of the 2015 season; Hill had been charged with domestic violence while at the University of Oregon in 2013. New England also drafted Alfonzo Dennard in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft after he assaulted a police officer the week before the draft, so there’s clearly a line.
“We researched it and in the end we felt comfortable at that position,” head coach Bill Belichick said about drafting Dennard. “Nothing altered [our thinking]. We researched it. There's really nothing else I can say about it. There's obviously some other things that are currently out there from a legal standpoint that I can't comment on.”
Despite the research done in the case of Dennard, there’s a pretty clear aversion to adding players linked with domestic violence. Howe wrote his angle with regards to Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon, a first-round talent that is likely to fall in the draft after he was suspended for the 2014 season for assaulting a woman, an assault that was caught on tape.
Mixon isn’t the only draft prospect that should be taken off the Patriots draft board. There’s are a handful of players with potential first-round talent like Mixon that NDS services have given fourth round grades (coincidentally the start of the final day of the draft, I’m sure) that have been linked to domestic violence.
Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis “is accused of assaulting his 20-year-old girlfriend”, charges to which Lewis has plead “not guilty.” Alabama EDGE Ryan Anderson was “arrested on misdemeanor third-degree domestic violence,” which involves destruction of property. Louisiana State DT Davon Godchaux was arrested for “false imprisonment and domestic abuse battery/child endangerment,” but the charges were subsequently dropped. Louisville EDGE Devonte Fields was investigated for allegedly pointing a gun at and then punching his ex-girlfriend, although the ex-girlfriend “did not want to pursue charges.”
Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook was arrested twice, once for “throwing the mother of his two children to the ground” and once because he “allegedly bit the same woman and struck her with a closed fist.” The charges were rejected and dismissed, respectively.
Now you’ll note that the charges were dropped in most of these cases, but male college athletes benefit from dropped charges at a rate “far exceeding that of nonathlete males in the same age range.”
Parsing the gray area is where the Patriots’ investigation comes into play- or, rather, where Kraft’s blanket “no domestic violence connections” should come into focus. In cases like Mixon, the Patriots are likely to just stay away.