One of the more frequent questions we get here at BadJocks.com has to do with the impact that athletes who behave badly (bad jocks) will have on a team’s season. In some cases, that’s pretty easy to calculate, as in the case of former New England Patriot tight end Aaron “Say Hello to My Little Friend” Hernandez, who left New England in a tight spot when he was arrested on murder charges last summer. Not good for the team, not good for the league, not good for anyone.
Hernandez was a starter who was being working into the offensive play-calling on an increasing basis (remember him starting off in the backfield toward the end of the 2012 season?). And with Rob Gronkowski out for at least part of the 2013 season, his role was likely going to grow. That is, until his rap sheet grew even faster. You can argue that the Patriots—once again—found a way to win without Hernandez and made it all the way to the AFC Playoff game without him . . . but could they have gone further? The Patriots have had an entire year now to retool their offense (rather than a few weeks) and, according to the online oddsmakers at Sports Betting Dime their odds of winning the Super Bowl these season are 14/1.
So, bad jock behavior DOES have an impact on a team’s season, but it also depends on the player and his team. Take the Jonathan Martin in Miami last season. The Dolphins are struggling already when all of a sudden Martin quits the team, claims he was harassed by fellow OL Richie Incognito (who was then suspended) and the Fins were suddenly down two offense linemen on an already shaken crew. Most experts (including myself) thought that it would be the end of the season for Miami and certainly for struggling quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But what happened? Instead of folding the Dolphins finished the season strong. The incident, instead of breaking the team apart, brought them closer together. They rallied around each other, created an “Us vs Them” mentality and won 3 of the last 5 games of the season. Not bad for a team that was below 500 most of the season.
I think part of that is that we’re talking offensive lineman here (as important as they are), but more importantly, this was probably more like a “cancer in the locker room” being removed, than anything else. So, when it comes to bad behavior impact the odds of a team winning in a given season, the answer, as in much of life, is “it depends.” But it does have an impact, and more often than not it is a negative impact . . . it just may take time to see the results.