Is New England Patriots Pro-Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather a felon or a fool? As of now, we know he's at least one of the two. I hope for his own sake he isn't both.
He's got the fool part pretty much down after managing to get himself involved in a shooting last week. The extent of his involvement remains to be seen, but if he finds himself charged in connection with a man being shot in the face, it's a good bet his NFL career is over. I would be stunned though, if Meriweather's involvement was more than simply being present.
What doesn't surprise me—nor should it—is that Meriweather is mixed up in "extracurricular" activities. He's proven time and time again that concerns about his character—both on and off the field—are legitimate.
While at the University of Miami, he was prominently seen stomping on opposing players with his cleats during an infamous in-game brawl. I'd call that a big red flag.
Since then, he's earned a reputation as a head-hunting mercenary in the secondary. He's been fined for numerous dirty hits on defenseless receivers. His freelancing ways even got him sent to the bench during parts of last season.
When a player can't be trusted on the field, they become expendable. When he can't be trusted off the field, he becomes a liability.
Should the Patriots release Meriweather?
Meriweather's lack of judgement will undoubtedly earn him some type of suspension from the league, especially if he's charged with anything.
After all, Adam "Pacman" Jones and Ben Roethlisberger were both suspended, despite never being convicted of anything. Roethlisberger wasn't even charged with a crime and earned a four-game vacation.
If Meriweather is charged with any wrongdoing, Roger Goodell may suspend him for the season. But I say even if he's not charged, Belichick needs to cut ties regardless.
He's a virtual lock to miss at least the same four games that Roethlisberger did. Considering he was outplayed at various points last season by Patrick Chung, James Sanders and Brandon McGowan, what makes him so valuable even when playing?
His poor judgement is currently on display off the field, but we all saw it on the field last season. Belichick can't trust Meriweather to be where he's supposed to be on defense, so all the playmaking ability in the world means nothing if you're out of position.
A team like the Patriots that expects to win every year can take on a project with talent like Meriweather if he keeps out of trouble. But when that project becomes a problem, it's time to cut your losses and move on.