Any Conclusions from Aaron Hernandez?

Updated: July 9, 2013

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As with most any big, shocking story the Aaron Hernandez fiasco has become a Rorschach Test…whatever your cause Hernandez becomes the poster child.

  • For the NFL detractors: just another mug-shot-example of an out-of-control NFL
  • For the playa-haters: just another privileged athlete whose crimes get overlooked until he goes over the line
  • For the anti-gun lobby: we don’t have an NFL problem or a violence problem, we have a gun problem

from flickr by Jeffrey Beall

These positions are all true to some degree but are all so trite and predictable based on the source as to be pretty useless. As usual this is a unique, one-off situation, and the conclusions are pretty much limited to the case and the players involved.

So, working on the assumption that the allegations against Hernandez are true (obviously the Patriots are working on that assumption) we’ll try to debunk and illuminate some of what has been put out to date:

  1. Everyone appears shocked that Aaron Hernandez turns out to be (allegedly) a really bad guy: This guy was has apparently been a member of the Bloods gang in Bristol, CT since high school. Everyone including colleges knew he hung with a bad crowd. He even sports Bloods’ tats. Upon arriving at U of Florida he punched and punctured the eardrum of a bar bouncer while he was still 17. This and other criminal episodes and failed drug tests at UF were set aside. Even though he had first round talent (he was the John Mackey award winner) there were NFL teams that excluded him from their draft boards outright. We find out now that he is likely involved in a double murder in Boston last summer and allegedly shot his associate Alexander Bradley in the face in Florida. We know that NFL Security has a line on every known bad boy in the NFL…they could probably teach the NSA a few tricks. The NFL knew all of this, they just couldn’t do much with this pot until it boiled over.
  2. The Patriots were extremely responsible and proactive in cutting ties with Hernandez: (That was my first reaction too)…when have we seen a club cut loose a very productive player and take a financial bath, at the first sign of arrest (albeit for a heinous crime)? The Ravens stuck by Ray Lewis amid his murder charges. The Pats allegedly didn’t even know the charges yet, he had only been brought down to the station house. Once again, it strains credibility to think the Pats didn’t know about all of Hernandez’ past and didn’t know the charges that were coming. Once more, they also had to believe it’s all true…they weren’t shocked because they knew his past too well. And that nice goodwill gesture of replacing the Hernandez jerseys? Of course…the last thing they want is to see #81 jerseys in the stands on game day.
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    Bob Kraft exhibited leadership and took responsibility for making the mistake of re-signing Hernandez: Upon returning from an overseas trip Kraft summoned 3 hand-picked reporters for a press conference yesterday. He said he and the Pats org were “duped”. I don’t know, is that taking responsibility? Hernandez did this to him. This Harvard MBA, this uber-successful businessman is a well-meaning rube who got bamboozled by this thug. He had no clue, no reason to think that Hernandez wasn’t on the up-and-up. C’mon man. And he hand-selects 3 reporters for inside access to get a favorable write-up to his tale. Oy vey.

Fact is, the Patriots played with fire. The fourth round in the NFL Draft is where teams start to take shots with these kinds of exceptional bad boy cases. They can either get lucky and get great talent on the cheap or it doesn’t work and they write it off…well USUALLY they can quietly write it off. This one not so much.

It reminds me of the Yankees re-signing A-Rod in 2007…after 4 years together everyone in the Yankee org knew that Alex was juicing (his teammates even openly busted on him for his man-boobs). Yankee brass took a calculated gamble that MLB wouldn’t crack down on PEDs in Alex’ Yankee lifetime. They bet wrong. The Patriots bet that they could straighten out this thug or at least live with him. They bet wrong too.

This post was written by

Dave Graziano – who has written posts on Big Dog Sports Blog.
Short Hills, NJ USA


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