Recapping Brandon Meriweather’s star-crossed career
|03.10.11 at 11:23 am ET|
Brandon Meriweather is only 27 years old, but even before Thursday’s report that he was allegedly involved in a shooting last month in his hometown of Apopka, Fla., he’s already been at the center of several notable episodes both on and off the field, both as a collegian at the University of Miami and with the Patriots.
While a collegian in July 2006, Meriweather was part of a shooting incident where Miami teammate Willie Cooper was shot in the buttocks’ teammate and roommate Meriweather returned fire. (Meriweather was not charged with a crime because the gun was found to have been owned legally.)
‘Me and coach [Bill] Belichick, we sat down and talked about it,’’ Meriweather said shortly after he was drafted by the Patriots in 2007. ‘I told him it was a dumb decision by me. I should have known better than to make that decision to have a gun. He understands that. I’m trying to move on.’
Later that same year, in a game between Miami and Florida International, Meriweather was caught by ESPN cameras stomping on several FIU players who were on the ground during an in-game brawl.
‘My emotions got the best of me,’ Meriweather explained. ‘I was headed out onto the field and I made a bad decision, one I shouldn’t have made, one I should have thought better of.’
After he was selected by the Patriots in the first round of the 2007 draft, Meriweather’s style of play made him a lightning rod for criticism during the first few seasons of his professional career. Despite the fact that Meriweather has more interceptions combined over the last two seasons than any other Patriots’ defender, he acknowledged early in the 2010 season that he was benched because he was freelancing more than the coaching staff would like.
Later in the 2010 season, a controversial helmet-to-helmet hit on Baltimore’s Todd Heap from the safety drew the attention of the league, earning the defensive back a $50,000 fine and sparking a league-wide decision by the NFL to start suspending players for dangerous hits.
‘I’m going to be aggressive, point blank,’ Meriweather told WEEI after the fine. ‘I won’t change my game, period. I’m sorry it happened. Heap is actually a real good friend of mine. I talked to him yesterday and let him know it wasn’t intentional and he told me he understood.’
Despite all the events, at the end of the 2010 season, Meriweather was named to his second Pro Bowl.