Imagine the uproar if a star defensive end on the Patriots with a history of violence against women was recently charged with a felony weapons violation.
Or how about if a superstar receiver who was previously arrested for choking and punching his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach was investigated for child abuse?
What if the head coach’s son slammed into a vehicle in the breakdown lane while intoxicated days before the Super Bowl, critically injuring a five-year-old girl in the process?
Don’t you think there would be cries for Robert Kraft to sell the team? Proclamations that the organization needs an enema? Hell, those calls were being made when a MAGA hat was found in Tom Brady’s locker.
I am shamefully stealing this column idea from Chris Curtis (I am a take parasite), but it is a shining example of the NFL Media’s hypocrisy when it comes to how it covers two of the league’s’ top organizations: the Chiefs and Patriots.
On WEEI Saturday, Curtis brought up the felony weapons charges recently levied against Frank Clark, who was arrested in March when police found two loaded firearms in his vehicle after a traffic stop. In June, Clark was arrested again when police say they found a submachine gun in his Lamborghini.
Clark has a troubled history. As a college student, he was arrested over suspicion of domestic violence after authorities were called to his hotel room, and found his girlfriend with a “large welt on the side of her cheek” and “marks on her neck.”
But yet, the Chiefs acquired him, despite his disturbing record. They also drafted Hill, and then signed him to a three-year contract extension after he was investigated for allegedly breaking his toddler’s arm. In a recording that was released, Hill’s ex-fiancee proclaimed their son was afraid of him, to which he replied, “You should be afraid of me, too.”
But you wouldn’t have known any of that if you watched Super Bowls LIV and LV. Hill’s sordid off-field past wasn’t brought up during either broadcast, and seldom mentioned in any stories. While we accept whitewashing as a general part of big-time sports coverage, it is shocking to others. A Danish journalist told Sports Illustrated this year they discuss Hill’s issues “every time” they air a Chiefs game in Denmark.
Britt Reid’s horrific accident was only vaguely referenced during the Super Bowl with about four minutes to go.
This isn’t to say Jim Nantz and Tony Romo would besmirch Steve Belichick’s name on national TV, or that the Patriots are a perfect organization. After all, they did draft Aaron Hernandez, who may have played a full season after committing double murder.
When Hernandez approached Bill Belichick at the NFL Combine about feeling unsafe, Belichick infamously suggested he rent a flop house.
But compare the hysteria over Deflategate to the relative silence over an organization that keeps riding bad actors to championship glory. Go back and look at the coverage of the aforementioned Hill tape. When the full recording was released, NFL Insiders went into full cover-up mode, saying its contents exonerated Hill.
"Someone called me two days ago and said make sure you listen to the entire 11-minute audio. I said, ‘OK.’ So I listened to the entire 11-minute audio that Crystal Espinal secretly recorded her and Tyreek Hill going through an airport and his comments come off very differently in that,” said Ian Rapoport on “Dale & Keefe” at the time.
But the transcript of the call actually doesn’t exonerate Hill at all. NFL reporters were trying to suppress the Hill story, which is the opposite of what happened during Deflategate, of course. An erroneous tweet from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen about 11 of 12 Patriots footballs being under-inflated by two pounds of pressure made the story into a national scandal.
When training camp begins in a few weeks, Clark, who faces three years in prison, probably won’t be with the Chiefs. But don’t expect to hear much about the story, or Clark Hunt to be questioned about why Clark is still on the roster.
When it comes to the Chiefs, critical coverage is apparently in the red zone.