New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather had a breakout season in 2009. He started all 16 games, finished third on the team in tackles, tied for the team lead in interceptions, scored a touchdown and forced two fumbles. He went to his first Pro Bowl.
Since then, Meriweather has not endeared himself to head coach Bill Belichick. His on-field struggles last season were one issue. His involvement in a volatile episode that included two people getting shot is another matter entirely.
That's not the Patriot Way.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department released a statement Thursday with information about the Feb. 28 incident in Meriweather's hometown of Apopka, Fla. Police put Meriweather at the scene.
"We are not prepared at this time to characterize or disclose Mr. Meriweather’s status in this case, though we do seek to interview him. This past Wednesday investigators received a call from an attorney identifying himself as representing Mr. Meriweather, who stated he was looking to facilitate an interview with his client. We are receptive to this overture and detectives are seeking to further this interview if it can be arranged."
The attorney for the two victims, John Morgan, has told multiple media outlets his clients claim Meriweather was the shooter. Tim Bridges, the legal guardian who raised Meriweather, told Boston Herald reporter Ian R. Rapoport the allegations are false.
Meriweather's future in a Patriots uniform could be short. Even if he was a benevolent character in this dangerous situation, any NFL team, especially the Patriots, would expect better judgment from their players.
Then again, the Patriots drafted Meriweather knowing he had been involved in a shooting while playing for the University of Miami. In 2006, Meriweather returned fire after Hurricanes teammate Willie Cooper was shot. Meriweather wasn't charged because the gun was registered and it was ruled he was acting in self-defense.
On the field, Meriweather wore on Belichick's patience last season.
Meriweather's play dropped off considerably in 2010. Although he was voted to his second Pro Bowl, the decision had Patriots' observers scratching their heads.
Meriweather should be thankful the labor situation prevents teams from contacting their players. Otherwise, as soon as the police get done with him, I'm sure Belichick and owner Robert Kraft would love to have words.