Wednesday, April 15, 2015
THE FALL OF AARON HERNANDEZ
“Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.” - John C. Mitchell
Aaron Hernandez was so gifted athletically, he should've had a sign hanging from his
neck that read, "standing room only." He was blessed with size, speed, and a toughness
that brought him fame, fortune, and a life that many of us can only dream of.
However, the string of bad choices Hernandez made revealed the character of a man
who couldn't harness anger nor an appetite for drugs. Most of all, his actions painted
a picture of a man-child who had little respect, if any, for other people. As a result, the
dream life of Hernandez turned into one that will come to a sad and tragic end behind
bars one day.
Hernandez, a former Pro Bowl player for the New England Patriots was sentenced
Wednesday to life in prison without parole for killing Odin Lloyd in 2013. The words:
"semi-pro football player" usually followed Lloyd's name's in media reports about his
death, but he was as far away from living the glamorous life of a professional player as
Hernandez was to being a good guy.
It's so hard to comprehend how a 23-year-old man who was pretty much set for life
after signing a $40 million contract extension, could kill someone and flush the money,
the mansion, and a job with the best franchise in the NFL down the toilet. I mean, the
guy got to catch passes from Tom Brady for a living and got paid handsomely to do it.
It doesn't get much better than that, does it?
Perhaps, the life we thought Hernandez had wasn't so great for him. When he was
just 16-years-old, his father passed away suddenly due to complications from hernia
surgery. Hernia surgery? Who dies from that? According to reports, Hernandez was
lost without his father and incredibly angry about his untimely death. Terri Hernandez,
Aaron's mother, told USA Today in 2009 her son lashed out at the family with frightening
anger and started using drugs frequently.
People react differently to the death of a family member and we all have our ways
of dealing with it. Maybe Hernandez turned to drugs to mask the pain that came with
his father's passing. We will never know with certainty but when Hernandez moved
on to the University of Florida, he allegedly failed six drug tests for marijuana and
punched a bouncer in head with such force, it broke the man's ear drum.
This was the Aaron Hernandez that scared teams off in the 2010 NFL Draft. There
were enough red flags around him to bring New York City traffic to a standstill. The
Cincinnati Bengals of all teams, shied away from Hernandez despite his wealth of talent.
The Bengals! Yes, the team that at one time had more players on the police blotter than
the number of wins they accumulated over a four-year period.
Hernandez was the best college tight end in the country, one who created match-up
nightmares for defenses because of his size and 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash. But
teams were passing on him like he was the second coming of Ryan Leaf
He was troubled, toxic, and to many teams, a time bomb who wasn't worth the risk of
having it blow up an NFL franchise.
Bill Belichick saw great value in Hernandez, especially in the fourth round, and rolled
the dice. He snagged first-round talent on the cheap and hoped the 'Patriot Way' would
help Hernandez walk the straight and narrow just as it did for longtime malcontents,
Corey Dillon and Randy Moss, several years before him.
Less than four years after his father's death, Hernandez was in the NFL and at
20-years-old, its youngest player. There he was, really just a kid, excelling in a man's
man type of game. And Hernandez had everything: money, fame, respect, and a
spot alongside Rob Gronkowski, giving the Patriots a nearly unstoppable two-tight
A $40 million contract extension followed and so did the words that proved hollow for
Hernandez and haunting for the Patriots. After putting the final touches on his new deal,
"I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, making the right decisions so I can have
a good life, and be there to live a good life with my family."
Hernandez didn't make the decision to do the right things so he won't have that good
life with his family. He no longer has any hope. None.
Anger got the best of Aaron Hernandez. He couldn't deal with or overcome his past.
Drugs may have helped mask the pain he may have endured from his father's death,
but they didn't help his decision-making process, which clearly exposed his character
He shot Odin Lloyd in cold-bold because he reportedly was mad at his 'friend' for talking
with people he didn't like in a night club. Some have said Hernandez feared Lloyd was
leaking information on a double-murder that Hernandez was eventually charged with.
One thing is certain: this is a sad and tragic case. Hernandez killed a man and ruined
so many lives. It was all so senseless and such a waste. Hernandez blew the god-given
talent that enriched his life beyond even his wildest imagination.
Many of his choices turned out to be bad ones, stripping a man of the armor that had
covered up his character flaws. Talent can take a person only so far, character is what
people will always remember.
Aaron Hernandez will be remembered as a bad, bad guy who wasted a great life
because he felt the need to end someone else's.