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Mike Lombardi on OMF: It wasn't Urban Meyer's responsibility to tell Patriots the truth about Aaron Hernandez

Alex Reimer
September 22, 2017 - 1:26 pm

It’s clear the Patriots failed to gather enough information on Aaron Hernandez prior to drafting him seven years ago. Given Bill Belichick’s close relationship with then-Florida head coach Urban Meyer, it’s fair to wonder whether Meyer was honest with the Patriots about Hernandez’s previous discretions.

But former NFL executive Mike Lombardi says Meyer, or any other college coach, shouldn’t be expected to tell the truth about their players to NFL teams.

"It’s not Urban Meyer’s job to tell the truth,” Lombardi said Friday on OMF. “We live in a world of legalities and we live in a world where people are going to sue. If it gets out that you’re badmouthing a player, word gets around. As an executive in the league, it’s your job to find the information. The last place you should go is to the coaches, because it’s not their job to make your job easier. You can’t rely on the coaches.”

Lombardi went on to say scouts should talk to players’ peers rather than their coaches in order to get a grasp on their personalities.

“You’re probably better off spending time at the local watering hole at the college campus and observing and asking the bartender about the players on the team than you are the assistant coaches,” he explained.

On the field, the biggest story with the Patriots this week involved cornerback Malcolm Butler, who didn’t start Sunday against the Saints. That’s led some to surmise Butler could be on the trading block, much like Jamie Collins last year.

Lombardi pushed back against that, though, saying the Patriots need Butler to succeed. 

“I think they’ll need Malcolm Butler this season more than they will to trade him,” he said. “I don’t think that would be the right thing to do. Malcolm Butler needs to play well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays well or starts this week.”

Lombardi also said it’s difficult to trade corners at “this time of year,” which is a curious statement, considering the Patriots traded for Aqib Talib prior to the deadline in 2012. The Patriots may wind up keeping Butler, but it probably won’t be because it was too difficult to move him.