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Tuesday, September 14, 2010
With Maroney gone, who'll Pats fans boo?

By Tim Graham

So who are New England Patriots fans going to adopt as their new favorite player to dislike?

Laurence Maroney
Running back Laurence Maroney, traded to Denver on Tuesday, fell out of favor with Patriots fans in recent seasons.
Randy Moss might insist he already holds that position, claiming after Sunday's game that in "the New England area, there's a lot of people who don't want to see me do good."

But for the past four years, Laurence Maroney probably was the guy who heard the most boos.

The Patriots on Tuesday traded Maroney to the Denver Broncos. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Patriots packaged a sixth-round pick with Maroney and received a fourth-round pick in return.

That's not great value for a player the Patriots selected 21st overall in 2006 to be their franchise running back.

We can officially label that pick a bust.

You could argue last year that Maroney was the biggest lightning rod on the team, a player who angered fans as much as he thrilled them.

Or was it tight end Benjamin Watson? Or was it outside linebacker Adalius Thomas?

All of them are gone now. Watson was a free agent whose contract wasn't renewed. Thomas was released.

On his ESPNBoston.com blog, Mike Reiss has posted an analysis of Maroney's time in New England and his place on the depth chart lately. Maroney was inactive for the season opener.

I've always thought Maroney was the most attractive backfield option for the Patriots. His pitter-pat running style before hitting the hole drove Patriots fans bonkers, but he was young, talented and capable of a big game every week.

The past three preseasons I inaccurately predicted Maroney would become a force. He was a force down the homestretch for the 2007 Patriots. In their last six games, postseason included, of their nearly undefeated campaign he rushed for at least one touchdown in each game and topped 100 yards four times.

But he never gained Patriots coach Bill Belichick's full trust and became a liability last year. He didn't fumble once in 2007 or 2008, but he fumbled four times last year. All of them came in a seven-game stretch, and he lost them all.