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Curse of the Bambino. Curse of the Billy Goat. Buffalo. The Madden Curse. Cleveland. SI Cover Jinx. Seattle. Steve Bartman. Cleveland again.
There have been a number of famous curses in the realm of sports over the centuries (okay, maybe that only applies to the Cubs) (sorry, couldn’t resist). The New England Patriots could be on their way to joining the ranks with their very own.
On Wednesday, the Patriots released 2011 second-round draft pick Ras-I Dowling, the injury-prone cornerback who only played in nine games during his two-year career. Dowling is the fourth second round pick in the New England secondary to unceremoniously be released, joining Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley, and Brandon Meriweather. The Curse of the Cornerback lives!
Dowling never lived up to his hyped size and athleticism (according to the generic scouting report from every other sports outlet covering his release). He ruptured a tendon in his leg during his rookie season, then tore his quadriceps last year to end both seasons on injured reserve. He only recently returned to the practice field after another injury during the preseason, and was far from guaranteed a roster spot with the presence of Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, and Kyle Arrington already among the final 53.
(Side note: the Patriots have boasted one of the worst secondaries in the league ever since he was drafted, 29th in passing yards per game in 2012, 31st and at early risk of being historically, infamously atrocious in 2011. Wait, this isn’t a side note at all.)
The other storyline apparently connected with Dowling is how the Patriots orchestrated a magnificent draft day trade to land that second-round selection, because of course talking heads around the sports world gush and fawn at every opportunity over the Patriots’ mastery of trading draft picks. Bill Belichick pulled his usual draft day wizardry (drool) and convinced the Carolina Panthers to give up a 2011 second-rounder for an immediate pick (#89) in the 2010 draft. That second-rounder became the 33rd overall pick, a 56-slot jump in the draft. (Which is admittedly pretty freaking masterful.)
Well, may Ras-I Dowling (and Butler) (and Wheatley) (and Meriweather) forever serve as a reminder that those stockpiled draft picks don’t mean squat unless you pick the right players.
Okay, so maybe less of a curse and more of a ghost story. Either way, the Patriots secondary is certainly haunted.