Throwing it all away

Image by Mike George, The Associated Press.
Image by Mike George, The Associated Press.

Hernandez charged with murder

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

Aaron Hernandez had always been destined for the NFL. Coming out of high school, he was considered the top tight end recruit. After declaring for the University of Florida, Hernandez would put in two solid years before breaking out in his junior season and winning the John Mackey Award for top tight end in the country. All the hours in the gym and in film study was finally paying off. Forgoing his senior season, Hernandez declared for the draft in April, and was selected in the fourth round by the New England Patriots.

Fast forward to early June and things were looking pretty good for Hernandez. He’d been signed to a five-year $37.5-million deal in August of 2012 and had just put an injury-troubled season behind him. He was considered one of the top tight ends in the league and was still playing with one of the finest quarterbacks in the game, Tom Brady. Hernandez was the definition of “making it.”

And then it all fell apart.

On June 18, police searched Hernandez’s home while investigating the death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancé—the two were supposedly friends. It began to look grim for the star tight end when it was discovered he had turned over his phone in pieces to police, destroyed his home security system, and hired some professional cleaners for his residence. On June 26, Hernandez was charged with murder. The Patriots immediately released him and the NFL pulled his jersey from their online store. It was also revealed that Hernandez was being investigated in connection with a double homicide in July of 2012 in Boston. CytoSport and Puma have since cancelled their sponsorship deals with him.

There are millions of kids who dream of playing in the NFL one day. A fraction of these kids will be stars in high school. A portion of them will be someone in college. A veritable handful of players will get a crack at the NFL. And of those who do make it to the big stage, the majority of them will be out of the league in three years or less.

Hernandez’s case is a sad commentary on the extreme short-sightedness of human nature. It’s impossible to understand what possessed Hernandez, or any star that spits in the face of their own hard work. To have come this far, to have it all, and then to make it all disappear in the blink of an eye. Hernandez is only 23 years old.