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Now that we’ve heard what happened with the Logan Mankins contract, there is so much to consider. As much as Bob Kraft scrambles to cover it up, and say that it never happened, the news has already leaked and the stain has already been made. It seems the contract fell through because Logan Mankins, allegedly, would not make his apology to Bob Kraft a public matter. His apology were allegedly made in a personal manner to Kraft, for comments that got lost in the shuffle that is today’s sports media, in June, about three months prior to the NFL season’s kickoff.
“After the 2008 season, me and my agent approached the Patriots about an extension and I was told that Mr. Kraft did not want to do an extension because of the [uncertain collective bargaining agreement],” Mankins had said, according to ESPN. “I was asked to play ’09 out, and that they would address the contract during the uncapped year. I’m a team player, I took them at their word, and I felt I played out an undervalued contract.
After that, he goes on to make comments that apparently require a public apology.
“That’s the big thing,” he continued. “Right now, this is about principle with me and keeping your word and how you treat people. This is what I thought the foundation of the Patriots was built on. Apparently, I was wrong. Growing up, I was taught a man’s word is his bond. Obviously this isn’t the case with the Patriots.”
Ouch. According to Kraft, though, Mankins called him on the phone and apologized for these comments. The conversation went smoothly, again, according to Kraft, until he asked for Mankins to bow to the organization and make the apology public.
“I hate violating a private conversation but I think it’s worthy because it speaks to this issue that – I got a call three weeks ago, maybe, something around that time, from Logan – and he apologized to me for the comments that he made in the public media,” Kraft said to WEEI, ESPN.com reports. “He said that he regretted he did it. He knew in retrospect that they were not true. And I accepted his apology because he is a high-quality guy.”
Again, it seems like a non-issue. And then the conversation, allegedly, took a turn.
“I also said to him, ‘You know Logan, it would be nice if that was made public because I’m hoping we do a deal with you,” Kraft said. “And I don’t want people to think that the way you do a deal is to say something that’s not true or involve ownership.’
No one will confirm what really happened, and these two stories are likely to conflict until Mankins ends up on another team. Then it may come up briefly when that team plays the Patriots again and reporters get in his face to give up the details that could build up a return match of Mankins against the Patriots.
But the whole ordeal says something about the state of the Patriots franchise. Kraft, Belichick and company have been known to handle these contractual, individual star athlete situations like a dictatorship. They did it with Lawyer Milloy, a former team leader who got cut just days before NFL’s opening kickoff in 2003. They basically let Asante Samuel walk out of New England while still wearing the NFL’s crown as the top defensive back. And then there was the curious incident of Richard Seymour, who got traded to the Oakland Raiders at the early stages of a season in which the Pats had a legitimate chance at contending for a Super Bowl. The logic behind that? Get rid of his huge contract while it was still only spoken about in whispers, as everyone knew they could never afford Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour in the same contract year.
So none of us should really be surprised about the Logan Mankins apology controversy (I had to fight off a strong urge to call it ‘apology-gate’). Ask John Hannah, who went through a legendary dispute that led to a dramatic split between the Hall-of-Famer and the Patriots that was worthy enough of even a recent Bill Simmons article, decades later.
But then consider the recent Randy Moss non-story, in which the media went crazy saying the famed wide receiver was regressing to his old state with the Vikings when discussing the inevitable – that he will finish out the season with the Pats and suddenly find himself unemployed. Moss explained his comments, but never apologized to Bob Kraft or Bill Belichick for saying they don’t appreciate him enough.
However, the Logan Mankins situation is understandable from both view points. Logan Mankins had apologized to Bob Kraft personally, which Kraft admits, and then was asked to stand in front of the media and issue an apology for speaking his mind on his contract. It is completely understandable, from Mankins’ perspective, to feel a little bit disrespected when he is told his man-to-man apology is meaningless, unless he apologizes to reporters. And now he sits through a holdout to watch Moss make similar comments without similar consequences.
On the Patriots’ side, the situation is a sign of the organization’s protocol for dealing with contract disputes. Other former Patriots (Milloy, Samuel and Seymour) were dispelled regardless of their value to the team or any comments they may have made. It seems to be a top priority for the Patriots franchise to avoid any situations that may make them look like the San Francisco 49ers, who let Michael Crabtree toy with them for months before they agreed to give $32 million to an unproven rookie.
There are multiple ways to look at the situation. But, regardless of how its analyzed or discussed, the Patriots end up without a former All-Pro offensive lineman, who might end up playing for a competitor and making the Patriots pay for it on the field.