Late Wednesday the Detriot News broke a story recounting when Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia was indicted, but not tried, for sexual assault. The article does a fantastic job recounting the events that happened in ’96, so if you want to get the nitty-gritty you can read the article here. I would try to summarize the article, but really Robert Snell wrote a great article and I wouldn’t do it justice. Plus that’s not the point of this post, I’m not here to recount what happened, I want to talk about how not only the Lions but the Patriots failed to know about this.
From all accounts it wasn’t hard for reporters to find out about this case. It was heavily covered in Texas when it was happening and from what I understand it took literally minutes to find out all the details on Nexus, which allows you to search public record. And if Deadspin can find the report in 30 seconds how come two football organizations couldn’t?
So really what excuse do the Patriots and Lions have for not taking the time to search even news coverage of Patricia before hiring him? And yes the responsibility is 90% on Matt Patricia for not informing the teams, even if he hasn’t tried and convicted he was still indicted so he should’ve disclosed the information to both teams during the interview process because of the severity of the charge (and ya know that whole honesty is the best policy thing).
But since Patricia is in full out-of-sight out-of-mind mindset how did the teams not find it? What kind of procedure do these teams have in place when vetting candidates? I would think that the Detriot Lions would have rigorous background checks on potential head coaches because of the position being 100% in the public eye. But it feels like in this case that the Lions were just happy to get Patricia who has been a rockstar with the Patriots for the last few years that they did the bare minimum check into his background to ensure that they didn’t have anything pop up and cause such a massive media firestorm. Plus the Lions failed by only talking to Patricia and his lawyer about the incident instead of trying to reach out to the accuser or anyone else involved to try and get another side of the story. Because really it’s slightly concerning that the Lions are okay with this whole thing just because of Patricia’s and his lawyers recollection of events.
I also have a problem with Patricia’s news conference yesterday where he acted almost as if he was the victim in this whole situation. Plus he didn’t take questions, which really if you are truly innocent like you claim you are, then you should be taking every single question since you did nothing wrong.
Since the Lions failed so badly at doing a simple background check, what should happen now? Well obviously Patricia’s character has taken a hit and this will follow him around for quite some time (rightfully so), but really the Lions have a bigger problem on their hands. Who is going to take the fall for this major mess-up? Should the team fire their General Manager for allowing this gross oversight to happen? (This probably won’t happen, but still he is the one in charge.) Most likely what I think will happen is that the team will release a statement saying they are overhauling their hiring process and putting strict procedures in place when vetting any new hires so that this kind of PR disaster doesn’t happen again.
All of this is really a lose-lose situation, the Lions lose for failing to uncover this prior to hiring Patricia and Patricia loses because his character is heavily damaged and possibly even his credibility for trying to almost cover this up.