The Bill Belichick-era Patriots have prided themselves on not creating off-field distractions.
Aside from that time one of their starting tight ends killed a man, the Patriots have been good at keeping the attention focused on the field. But as hard as it sometimes may be to believe, however, Patriots players are human. Even Tom Brady, whose diet would make Jillian Michaels blush, is human. And humans make mistakes.
The Patriots had last weekend off and it appears as though the old “idle time is the Devil’s playground” mantra came into play as Chandler Jones spent Sunday at the hospital, Bill Belichick sported a black eye at a Tuesday press conference and Rob Gronkowski was MIA at Pats practice Tuesday after spending the weekend poolside in Florida with a young lady.
It may turn out that none of the above featured illegal activity (particularly the part about Gronk hanging out by the pool), but all of it gives the Patriots an un-Patriot-like “bad look” heading into their playoff game against the Chiefs Saturday (4:35 p.m., CBS).
The part regarding Jones is obviously most alarming. The Pro Bowl defensive end showed up at the Foxborough Police Department Sunday at 7:42 a.m. “shirtless and shoeless” and was sent to the hospital after having “OD’d on pills,” according to WEEI Sports Radio sources. Police said Jones was involved with “Class D” drugs, according to audio obtained by Heavy.com. WEEI also reported on Twitter that Jones had overdosed at Gronkowski’s house, but the tweet was later revised and did not cite any location.
A popular drug among athletes these days is “synthetic weed,” which doesn’t show up in most drug tests. But it is highly dangerous and causes many users to become highly paranoid.
Last month, Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (a possible top five pick in this year’s NFL Draft) made headlines when he was arrested after he smashed through a double-pane hotel window and fell 15 feet to the ground. Ndemdiche reportedly “tripped” on the fake weed.
As for Belichick, he offered up little info about his black eye at the press conference, but his girlfriend, Linda Holliday, at least acknowledged it on Twitter, tweeting, “BlackEyeGate” accompanied by a “crying with laughter” emoji. Holliday’s tweet was in response to a follower tweeting at her: “Should only have to tell Bill to clean the dishes once..lesson sent #blackeyegate.”
Gronkowski’s absence from Tuesday’s practice was highly unusual given that the Patriots are in crunch time preparation for the Chiefs game and that they had time off over the weekend.
Gronkowski and Chandler were both present at practice Wednesday.
These off-field distractions, again, are highly irregular for the Patriots – particularly this time of year. One notable exception came in January 2011 when Belichick benched receiver Wes Welker for the first series of a playoff game against the Jets for publicly joking about then-Jets head coach Rex Ryan and a foot fetish video that popped up on the Internet involving Ryan’s wife. The Patriots wound up losing that playoff game to the Jets, 28-21.