Not for the first time in history - or even the last decade to be honest - the New England Patriots find themselves at the centre of a disgraceful conspiracy.
In what has to be one of the most despicable things I've ever had the displeasure of reading, it has been outed that Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft tried to withhold much-needed treatment from a player in order to get him to return his signing bonus.
Yes you read that right, the Patriots conspired to screw one of their own players who was still on the team. It truly is disgraceful.
The story was broken in today's Washington Post and the player involved - the one Belichick and co. tried to screw - was defensive end Jonathan Fanene. Fanene was drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 draft and had spent seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before joining the New England in March of 2012.
Fanene had passed two physicals before signing with the Patriots, but was cut later in 2012 with head coach Belichick telling reporters things just didn't work out.
The $3.85M Bonus
Behind the scenes, however, Belichick was allegedly communicating with team physician Thomas Gill, and the Patriots were attempting to make a claim that Fanene had been released for "failure to disclose physical condition" - despite passing those two physicals.
The reason being, if there claims could be supported, the Patriots would be able to reclaim all of Fanene's $3.85million dollar signing bonus.
From the Washington Post's report:
"A grievance letter sent by the players' union cites an e-mail from former team physician Thomas Gill that the NFLPA contends shows Gill telling Patriots owner Robert Kraft and President Jonathan Kraft that he was "trying to put together a case" that would compel former defensive end Jonathan Fanene to return $3.85 million after he suffered a knee injury in 2012."
"The letter further asserts that Patriots Coach Bill Belichick directed Gill to delay any surgery on Fanene's knee while an effort was made to persuade the player to retire, thus forgoing his bonus....In its grievance letter, the players' union alleged that Gill initially scheduled Fanene for arthroscopic surgery to treat a knee injury. However, he 'took the direction of Bill Belichick' to delay any surgery, and 'ultimately Dr. Gill refused to do the surgery at all,' advising Fanene that if he wanted the surgery, he should use his personal physician."
This is disgraceful and shows the lengths Bill Belichick and the Kraft's will go to in order to save what is essentially pocket change for them. This is truly scummy to try and cheat a player out of his own money.
The two sides settled out of court and the details of it remain private, with the Patriots ordering a gagging order on Fanene as part of the settlement they gave him so he can't discuss how big a disgrace the Patriots organization is.
It should be noted that the doctor in the case, Thomas Gill, is no longer with the team. He was no stranger to controversy however as he was accused of screwing up the treatment of Rob Gronkowski's broken arm, with the tight end eventually needing four surgeries to fix Gill's quick fix.