The Detroit Lions didn’t know that coach Matt Patricia had been indicted for aggravated sexual assault in 1996. So here’s the question: Should they have?
On one hand, it’s understandable to assume that Patricia wouldn’t have made it as far as he did in coaching without something like this coming out. Some have called it a skeleton in the closet; the reality is that it was an unburied bag of bones hiding in plain sight.
Deadspin.com demonstrates just how easy it would have been to find the information, if the Lions had searched for it. A simple Nexis search uncovered it. A league source with access to the service tells PFT that, indeed, the Patricia indictment “comes up right away.”
Apparently, someone else uncovered it, too. The original report from the Detroit News indicates that a private investigation firm requested the court files for Patricia’s case in January. It’s not clear whether the Lions, the NFL, or some other team requested the information.
It’s also not clear why this is coming out now. Chances are that the Detroit News wasn’t randomly conducting criminal background checks on prominent Michigan sports figures. So someone who knew about it decided to tell the Detroit News about it, and the fact that a grand jury determined that there was enough evidence to justify a trial coupled with the curious failure of anyone to notice (including the Boston and national media during Patricia’s years as New England’s defensive coordinator) made it newsworthy.