May 13, 2018
The First Day Sunday Sports Take. The First Day show might be over, but it remains alive and well online in both blog and podcast form! Here’s this week’s sports take regarding the revelation that Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia was once charged with rape back in 1996.
Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia is either dumb or devious.
That’s the headline to USA Today’s Dan Wolken’s critical piece about the new Lions leader.
We learned this week that a grand jury indicted Patricia for sexual assault when he was a football player at RPI in 1996.
Patricia and a teammate were both charged for assaulting a college student during spring break on South Padre Island.
But as happens many times in these cases, the victim eventually decided not to testify, causing authorities to drop the charges.
Patricia was free to pursue his engineering dreams, which turned into football coaching dreams.
He started at Amherst College, moved on to Syracuse, and then finally landed a coaching job with the New England Patriots.
According to Patricia, he never divulged his arrest because there was no trial and he “was innocent.”
As Dan Wolken notes, perhaps that kind of thought process is believable when applying for engineering or assistant coaching jobs.
But once Patricia knew how teams were clamoring for him to become their next head coach, he probably should’ve shared that piece of his past.
It’s not like that kind of information remains hidden. Someone was going to find it.
Heck, The Brownsfield Herald reported on the incident in 1996!
That story gives details of the charges, describing how Patricia and his friend woke the victim up, and took turns assaulting her.
How did the Detroit Lions not find this story?
Better yet, how did the New England Patriots, and its coaching guru Bill Bellicheck, fail to do its own background search?
Patricia had luck on his side. He didn’t have to testify in a court of law, and have his life in the hands of a jury of his peers.
So far, no other victims have come forward, and Patricia seems to have lived a clean life–as far as we know.
The Detroit Lions–and especially General Manager Bob Quinn, who’s known Patricia for years–are sticking with their coach.
I guess they can, for now.
But Wolken’s opinion about Patricia isn’t that controversial.
His failure to divulge this information was the wrong call.
For Patricia to believe that episode of his life would remain hidden was ignorant. Or worse, Patricia’s failure to share that piece of history with the Patriots and Lions is deceitful.
Lions’ fans are hoping Patricia can be the coaching savior they’ve wanted for the last 60 years.
It’s not a good sign, though, when Patricia made such a bad decision before ever walking the sidelines as a Lions head coach.