It seemed like only yesterday that Brandon Spikes and the New England Patriots had put the past behind them. This was no longer about the way things ended back in 2014, but about the two sides agreeing to a fresh start prior to the 2015 NFL season.
On May 16, Spikes signed a one-year deal, worth a maximum of $2 million. At New England’s organized team activities, the veteran linebacker spoke about his eagerness to begin this next chapter. “We can clearly see that me and ‘The Hoodie’ kissed and made up,” Spikes said of coach Bill Belichick. “I’m here, that’s in the past, and I’m moving on.” Unfortunately, for all parties involved, this reunion would be short-lived.
On Monday, after learning that police were investigating the linebacker’s car in a possible connection with an accident that occurred early Sunday morning on I-495 in Foxborough, the New England Patriots officially released Spikes. While no charges were filed in the incident, the Patriots wasted no time in cutting ties with the former Florida Gator. After all, considering the debacle that is “Deflategate,” it’s not surprising to think this organization has zero intention of getting involved in another public relations nightmare. But under these circumstances, you have to wonder: Did the Patriots cut Spikes too quickly?
Before we take this any further, it’s important to time and look at all the information that has been provided. While a thorough investigation still needs to be had, here are the incidents in question. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss:
A car with front-end damage registered to New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes was found abandoned on I-495 in Foxborough early Sunday morning, according to Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio.
Shortly before 3:30 a.m. ET Sunday, police responded to a report of a 2011 Mercedes Maybach in the median strip. Police said they were notified by a representative of the OnStar on-board navigation system that the driver reported hitting a deer.
When police arrived at the car, the driver was not present. Police said they did not find a deer in the area.
In addition, Procopio said a short time later that police responded to a report of a 2009 Nissan Murano, also on I-495 in the same area as the abandoned car registered to Spikes, whose occupants reported that they had been rear-ended by another vehicle they did not see.
All three occupants of that vehicle — a 51-year-old man, a 32-year-old woman, and a 12-year-old boy, all of Billerica, Massachusetts — were transported to an area hospital for examination and treatment.
At present, nothing is definitive. Authorities are still trying to determine who was driving Spikes’ Maybach. On top of that, they need to access whether or not this was, in fact, the car that rear-ended the 2009 Nissan Murano. At face value, this occurrence seems too improbable to be a coincidence. It was the same stretch of highway. There was no deer in sight. There was no driver in Spikes’ vehicle. And the damage seems like the kind associated with this sort of accident. If there really was a deer involved, then why did the driver flee? And yet, what if it really was just a coincidence?
There are a lot of factors that still need to be sussed out. But this still made no difference to the New England Patriots. At the slightest inclination of wrongdoing, this organization laid down the law, and removed the possibility of a scandal. We can’t help but think that if we were put in the same situation, we’d have made the same decision. But was this choice made because of Spikes’ history or because it’s more important, in this day and age, to maintain a clean image in the NFL?
This is a crucial time for the National Football League. After last season’s scandals involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson (and what happened with Aaron Hernandez), organizations — and commissioner Roger Goodell himself — cannot afford to be at the center of controversy. Given this mindset, when it comes to the potential of wrongdoing, no longer are individuals innocent until proven guilty, but rather “somewhat guilty” until proven innocent. Need another example?Look no further than what took place at this past 2015 NFL Draft with La’el Collins.
Collins, the former offensive lineman out of LSU, was predicted to be a surefire first round pick. However, when it was revealed that authorities wished to speak with him with regard the murder of his ex-girlfriend — 29-year-old Brittney Mills — and her baby, the top prospect was essentially deemed “undraftable.” Eventually things were cleared up, and he signed with the Dallas Cowboys. But this just goes to show how that, when the possibility of foul play is involved, teams want nothing to with it.
The New England Patriots did what they believed was best for the organization as a whole. Whether or not Spikes committed a crime, was irrelevant. At this moment in time, image is more important in the NFL than ever before. Call it cynicism. Call it precaution. Call it whatever you want. It doesn’t matter if you agree or not, just know that this is the new way things are operating in the National Football League. Was Brandon Spikes cut too quickly? Perhaps. Did the Patriots do the right thing? Yes. Is that fair? You tell us.