"How he screwed up his life like this is beyond belief."
"He just threw away his entire career, and for what?"
"He had everything and now he'll have the rest of his life to think about it?"
Many people around the country were saying those things about Aaron Hernandez as he
took the perp walk on his way to a court house where he was charged with the murder of
a "friend" on Wednesday. The Pro Bowl tight end had everything; fame, fortune, and talent
from the God's that few people are blessed with. How he blew everything in this fashion
is beyond belief. Or is it?
In 1999, we couldn't believe that Rae Carruth of the Carolina Panthers would conspire to
kill his girlfriend who was 8 months pregnant. He ruined three lives because he didn't want
to have to support another child. Really?
It was supposed to be beyond belief when we saw Ray Lewis walk into an Atlanta court house
13 years ago to face murder charges. Didn't we say the same thing after Michael Vick went off
to federal prison after fronting a dog fighting operation and lying to the authorities? He
destroyed everything for that?
We were stunned when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher pumped nine bullets into
the mother of his child, then blew his brains out in front of his coaches. Belcher was mad at his
girlfriend partied too much, yet he was sleeping with other woman. He killed a person and
then himself over that?
Weren't we incredulous when veteran receiver Donte Stallworth killed a man while he was
drunk out of his mind in Miami several years ago? Yep, those extra shots he had at the bar
must have been worth it.
Oh, and don't forget good ole Plaxico Burress. The former Giants receiver brought a concealed,
unregistered weapon into a New York City night club. He didn't kill anybody, but he shot
himself in the leg, then spent two years in prison. His stupidity cost him millions of dollars
and two solid years of productivity on the field.
What we saw on Wednesday is what we have seen many times before, so why did we think
the arrest of Hernandez was "beyond belief?" Shouldn't we be immune to the self-destructive
acts of these professional athletes? If you throw in the indecent behavior of Lance Armstrong,
Tiger Woods, Manti' Te'o, and Rick Pitino over the last five years, can any of us actually be
surprised by anything anymore?
For some strange reason, however, we are. People around the country were riveted to the
drama taking place inside the court house just outside of Foxborough, Massachusetts this
afternoon. We labored to make it through ESPN's wall-to-wall repetitive coverage complete
with the legal speak of Roger Cossack, who is wrong more often than your local weatherman.
We couldn't believe what we were seeing, although we've seen it many times before. The NFL
is starting to see these types of things in their sleep. Since the Super Bowl, 28 players in
the league have been arrested. 28! I'm sure Roger Goodell and his men behind the NFL shield
are used to it by now. They certainly can't be surprised. And neither should we.
The legal process is just beginning for Aaron Hernandez. There's a chance he may never get
out of prison, but there's also a chance he may play in the NFL again, as well. We saw that
with Ray Lewis and Donte Stallworth,. When they escaped serious prison time and returned
to the NFL, we all thought it was "beyond belief" as well.
If Hernandez somehow walks, too. We shouldn't be surprised at that either. As we've seen in
the sports world over the last two decades, there isn't anything at all that makes us say to
ourselves and others, "that's beyond belief". Nothing is anymore. Not in the NFL, and not
around the neighborhood corner.
Aaron Hernandez is not the first NFL player to be shackled and chained going to face a judge,
and something tells me, he's far from being the last.