Don't get distracted by Aaron Hernandez blame game
Posted July 10, 2013
Let me preface these ruminations with this: I grew up a fan of the New England Patriots.
Three years ago, I was pretty steamed when Bob Kraft and company selected Rob Gronkowski in the second round of the NFL Draft ahead of the guy who I thought would be the best addition to their tight end corps. Two rounds later, seemingly a bargain, they got him anyway.
I’ve enjoyed watching Aaron Hernandez torch the turf in three years with my favorite NFL team. I liked his willingness to line up in the backfield and carry the ball two seasons ago with a rushing attack on life support. Heck, I’m a sucker for touchdown celebrations, and I loved his ridiculous version of making it rain. Sometimes, he cracked the combination of a safe, sometimes he used a shovel.
Apparently, fake dollar bills aren’t the only things Hernandez has buried from the rest of the world. By now, I’m sure everyone’s heard about his recent criminal investigations. Whether or not Hernandez is guilty in the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd is not for me, or the rest of us, to decide. I’ll let a jury handle that. It is the judicial process our country is based on. However, the rest of the free world who will not be sitting in a jury box can speculate or play the blame game. This is the slippery slope, I’ll attempt to navigate.
So, who’s to blame? Shouldn’t someone have seen the warning signs? What about Urban Meyer? Did you know Hernandez failed a drug test while at the University of Florida? One or six depending on who you hear it from.
Granted, Tyrann Mathieu admitted to failing 10 of them during his time at LSU. He thinks, that is, he lost count once it hit double digits.
Hernandez had no leash at UF according to some folks. Just ask former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Indianapolis Colt, Anthony McFarland. As he blogged recently for the CBS affiliate in Tampa, “this brings me to Urban Meyer, who by all accounts didn’t care about what was going on with all these players off the field. He was just worried about winning games and if that’s the case then he failed Aaron Hernandez.”
McFarland even went so far to label Meyer as an enabler. Geez, haven’t seen this much finger wagging since that Dikembe Mutombo-Geico commercial.
How about Kraft, Bill Belichick, and the rest of the Patriots organization? A potential first-round pick slipped through everyone’s fingers and fell to them as the 113th overall selection? There had to have been a reason why 31 other teams passed on him multiple times over, right?
ESPN’s Ashley Fox points her finger squarely at Foxboro. In a recent article, Fox condemned Patriots’ brass because “they knew he had issues.” Kraft’s brand? “Tarnished,” according to Fox. The quick dismissal from the team? “Too little, too late.”
“Character issues” is the new, hip label thrust upon sports’ problem children. Hernandez had them, that’s not deniable. You know who else wore that same label? Bruce Irvin. Why would any NFL team, much less a university, take a chance on a kid who dropped out of high school in his junior year? Why would someone risk the prestige of their program on a kid who spent two weeks in jail after being arrested for burglarizing a drug dealer’s house? West Virginia University, and subsequently, the Seattle Seahawks rolled the dice on him. Safe to say, they haven’t come up snake eyes.
Point being, for every Aaron Hernandez there are a multitude of Bruce Irvins. Success stories from less-than-affluent backgrounds and checkered pasts. Which is why I’m not buying the “who’s at fault” fiasco.
It is a real mess of a case. While some decry Hernandez’s gang ties, he claims not to have any, despite certain photos that have surfaced. Some screamed guilty at the sight of his tattoos, despite police not finding any correlation. Others point to his questionable Connecticut friends.
Once again, I’m not about to play judge, jury and executioner, but I’ll gladly partake in this blame game. If there’s a finger to be pointed, I’m aiming it at the one who allegedly committed the crime, and laying off Meyer, Kraft, Belichick, etc. Perhaps the most poignant thought I’ve read on the subject came from that beacon of intelligent enlightenment, Facebook:
“Before we got him, my dog Coco would run with a wild pack of street dogs throughout the neighborhood. The pack of dogs would chase after bicyclists and be a little rowdy on the street – trampling flowerbeds and such. Coco then got adopted by us. Now, he stares out the window and the pack of dogs who run around and does not seem to care one bit about going back to that lifestyle – he knows he's in a better place. Aaron Hernandez seemed to be in a better place making millions as a pro football player. Yet, he didn't seem to want to leave the street life behind. It's too bad Aaron Hernandez didn't have as much sense as my dog Coco.”
Currently listening to: Nine Inch Nails, “Came Back Haunted," directed by one of Hollywood’s finest, David Lynch. This may be the first entity of his that I’ve ever seen which did not directly require a trip to wikipedia or IMDB to make any sense of what I just watched. I’m still trying to wrap my head around “Lost Highway.”