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Richard: Patriots legacy under microscope following charges against Robert Kraft

| Monday, February 25, 2019

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft made national headlines over the weekend as police in Jupiter, Florida, linked him to a prostitution sting at a spa holding trafficked Chinese women. Prosecutors additionally claim to have video evidence of Kraft at the scene. If the accusations turn out to be true, this would perhaps leave another stain on the Patriots’ dynasty — one that could prove far more permanent than past transgressions.

The era of powerhouse trio Robert Kraft, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick has endured a great deal of controversy accompanying their overwhelming amounts of success. The Patriots are fresh off of their sixth Super Bowl title of the 19-year period Tom Brady has been calling the shots. Wide receiver Julian Edelman was potentially the story of the game, catching 10 passes for 141 yards and earning MVP of the contest. Even more remarkable, Edelman came into this season after missing the entire year prior with a torn ACL suffered in the preseason. However, it seemed many were quick to forget Edelman also missed the first four games of the 2018 season, though this time not for injury. According to League officials, Edelman violated the performance-enhancing drug policy.

However, this was far from the team’s first scandal. The issues began well before, with SpyGate — a incident in which the Patriots were caught illegally videotaping rival New York Jets’ defense signals — in 2007. The organization received fines totaling $750,000, and lost their 2008 first round draft pick. In 2010, tight end Aaron Hernandez was drafted to New England despite multiple warning signs stemming from his tenure with the Florida Gators, including repeated violations of the law. These negative indications came to a head in 2013 when Hernandez was charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd, a bombshell story which eventually made worldwide headlines. DeflateGate became yet another infamous story after the 2015 AFC Championship game when Tom Brady was accused of deliberately requesting to have his in-game footballs be deflated below the legal pressure. Brady served an unpaid four game suspension for the 2015-2016 season, as debate surrounded the conclusion of the League’s investigation.

As a sixth-round draft pick, Brady draws the adoration of fans everywhere due to the underdog mantra associated with his name. The Patriots have never prided themselves on being an immensely talented group, but instead, a group of selfless individuals who will take whatever role necessary in order to win. Despite this level of outside attractiveness, the New England dynasty may now have tainted its legacy in an irreversible manner. The aforementioned trio of Belichick, Brady and Kraft all now have their own unique blemishes as the end appears near. How will sports historians look back on one of the greatest runs of success in the duration of any sport? Regardless, opposition to the Patriots’ legitimacy entering the pantheon of sports lore now have an even larger mountain of evidence to defend their position.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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