The reactions to the news that former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez may have murdered someone have run the gauntlet. Some believe he could not have done it, others feel he must be guilty.
No matter which end of the spectrum you as an observer might fall on, there are a number of vital facts you probably were not aware of. Hernandez is currently sitting in jail and awaiting trial on the first-degree murder of 27-year old Odin Lloyd. Surveillance cameras have been studied, his home has been turned upside-down, investigators have even dove into nearby lakes looking for evidence.
What has only been given a cursory glance (relatively speaking) is the young man’s personal life. Yes, he got into fights while starring at Florida, but where did it all come from and how was it manifesting itself on a day-to-day basis?
Rolling Stone details several findings regarding the lifestyle Hernandez lived before his arrest. Basically, it’s not what you might expect from a person whose livelihood entails keeping one’s body in peak physical condition.
- Hernandez was a heavy user of angel dust, and had become so paranoid over the last year that he carried a gun wherever he went.
- He surrounded himself with a cohort of gangsters, and cut himself off from his family and teammates.
- Hernandez had so infuriated his head coach, Bill Belichick, with missed practices and thug-life stunts, that he was one misstep from being cut.
- Belichick reportedly knew Hernandez felt his life was in danger.
- Both his parents, Dennis and Terri, have criminal records, as do much of his extended family.
- Terri allegedly cheated on Dennis before his death with a violent drug dealer named Jeffrey Cummings, then married Cummings after Dennis died and moved him into the house she shared with Aaron.
- In college his coach (then-University of Florida head coach Urban Meyer) may have helped cover up failed drug tests, along with two violent incidents — an assault and a drive-by shootout outside a local bar.
According to this report, Hernandez’s problems ran deeper than just the Odin Llyod case. He was brought up in a violent environment that, once he was fully engulfed in it as an adult, he could not escape.
Whether or not Rolling Stones’ feature is 100% accurate and “fair” is up for debate, but one thing is for certain, there were “extracurricular activities” going on on some level.
For college football fans, especially Florida and Ohio State diehards, as well as parents sending their children off to be mentored by a football coach for four years, the last bullet point is very worrisome. There have been longstanding rumors of Meyer’s “Circle of Trust” being more of a freedom ring for star players to do whatever it is they pleased.
Covering up failed drug tests are one thing, but assault and drive-by shootouts are completely different.
Hernandez isn’t the only player that Meyer has been rumored to have provided special treatment. What we as fans saw out in public was not necessarily what was going on behind closed doors.
Hopefully coaches around the country take a proactive measure to not cover up, but rather help players in need. A good percentage of athletes come from troubled pasts, and covering up will only enable the player to make similar decisions in the future.