Why’d you do it, Rolling Stone?
After already angering much of Boston last month with the cover story on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the magazine this time ruins an otherwise sterling feature on Aaron Hernandez by allowing plagiarist Ron Borges to sully the work of writer Paul Solotaroff.
While Joe Sullivan was having his Boston Globe writers out talking to private investigators and handwriting experts, Solotaroff was putting together perhaps the most complete investigative profile of Hernandez yet.
Much of the feature is outstanding – it really puts together a lot of the pieces, and background that brought Hernandez to the point where he is now. Where we’ve heard so many disjointed accounts of incidents, the narrative of this story puts them all together in context, along with testimony about Hernandez’s upbringing and the events that put him on this path. It’s really compelling and fascinating material.
But then, out of nowhere, Ron Borges swoops in, takes a steaming dump on the Patriots, and then flies out again.
It really is amazing. You can tell precisely where Borges’ takes over the narrative (the stoop-to-conquer Patriots of Bill Belichick) and when he gives it up. It’s not a smooth transition at all.
Solotaroff brings the piece to the point where the Patriots come into the story – the 2010 NFL Draft. Then this;
Time was, the Pats were the Tiffany franchise, a team of such sterling moral repute that they cut a player right after they drafted him, having learned he had a history of assaulting women. But Beli-chick, the winner of three Super Bowl titles and grand wizard of the greatest show on turf, had decided long before he got to New England that such niceties were beneath him. Over a decade, he’d been aggregating power unto himself, becoming the Chief Decider on personnel matters. He signed so many players bearing red flags they could have marched in Moscow’s May Day parade (Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, et al.), and began drafting kids with hectic pasts, assuming the team’s vets would police them. Some of this was arrogance, some of it need: When you’re picking from the bottom of the deck each spring, you’re apt to shave some corners to land talent.
The writing style, the tone, everything is completely different from the rest of the piece. It’s all Borges catch-phrases, too.
Belichick signed both to big extensions years before their rookie deals expired, giving Hernandez $40 million and Gronkowski $54 million, while stiffing Wes Welker, the slot receiver.
“Stiffing Wes Welker.” How that little tidbit – even if true – is at all relevant to the rest of the story is completely beyond me.
Borges then launches into how Belichick fired Frank Mendes, and “replaced the Pats’ security chief with a tech-smart Brit named Mark Briggs.” (In 2003, mind you, 10 years ago!) That paragraph ends with a law-enforcement official who “dislikes Briggs” complaining that the Patriots aren’t receptive to tips and it isn’t a friendly environment to call over.
In his first remarks after Odin Lloyd’s murder, Robert Kraft described himself as “duped” by Hernandez, saying he’d had no knowledge of his troubles. That is arrant nonsense: Every team knew him as a badly damaged kid with a circle of dangerous friends and a substance problem. Once a Patriot, Hernandez practically ran up a banner that said STOP ME! I’M OUT OF CONTROL!
Funny, that’s not how Borges himself described Kraft’s initial statements on the case.
Speaking publicly for the first time against the advice of his attorneys, Kraft said he felt the need for the public to hear from the organization — and frankly he is the organization. One can talk all they want about Bill Belichick or anyone else but when push comes to shove one voice dominates all others in Foxboro and it is Kraft’s. The team is still here because he kept it here and it will be here long after Belichick and Tom Brady are gone and so on his first day back in his office he spoke from the heart.
I’m confused; was Kraft speaking from the heat, or was he dishing out arrant nonsense?
And then, POOF, as quickly as Borges swooped in, he’s gone, and Solotaroff wrestles back control of the narrative.
It didn’t have to be that way. By adding Borges to the story, someone with an axe to grind against the franchise, and who left the Boston Globe under a cloud (shouldn’t that have been a RED FLAG?) undermines the effectiveness of the feature.
Question: What does the Boston Herald think about this? How could they not even get an exclusive excerpt out of the fact that their writer was working on this? How can they not be pissed?
Some other points:
We know what the sports radio talking points will be:
The flophouse was Belichick’s idea, Mike!!!
They knew what a scumbag he was, and looked the other way!
If Belichick didn’t arrogantly fire the security director, no one would’ve been killed!
He was walking around the locker room high on angel dust, and they did nothing about it!
So all those locals (Media especially) who swore they would never again read a word that Rolling Stone published after the Tsarnaev cover are going to completely ignore this article right?
Lots of suggestion that Urban Meyer covered stuff up at Florida, but seemingly not a lot of sourcing. Nor specific details.
Angel dust? One source, and a cop from Bristol who says it was a problem in the city.
The thing about this is, while there is a ton of detailed about Hernandez’s life, when it comes to his Patriots tenure, material prior to this spring is not in abundance. Points about the combine meeting, (how many sources on that one, I wonder?) the missed workouts, the threatened release, those are new. Otherwise, there besides unnamed friends saying Hernandez smoked several blunts while driving home after every game, there isn’t much that seems to indict the organization.