If you haven’t seen the Aaron Hernandez documentary by now I would strongly suggest you do so. The thing I found most important about the documentary was the depth and how it touched on so many different topics and levels, a few which I think get lost in the mix of what a troubled individual Hernandez was or in reality became.
This story is clearly sad, and I know this is a little cliché to say and you will hear it over and over again about athletes that willingly throw away fame and fortune but Hernandez truly had it all and the potential was sky high. I’m not talking about his talent; I’m talking about the looks, the demographics, and the personality to make a huge impact on and off the field. Hernandez was a small town, Hispanic, well liked, good looking, and smart kid and while you have players in the NFL with many of those same features what you don’t have is many, or any really, with a Puerto Rican heritage. Hernandez was poised to be a spokesperson for the entire Hispanic community and a role model for kids who want to pursue a similar path but are told to play baseball instead of football. He was a marketing departments dream and he could have been not only a player but a brand. Unfortunately the “what ifs” are purely hypothetical now so I won’t go down that path but what I really wanted to point out was the calling out, hypocrisy, and win at all costs mentality that is rampant throughout sports at all levels.
It was clear from the second Hernandez’s father passed away that this was a kid that needed direction and needed help. Kids in this situation tend to go down 1 of 2 paths either they find a mentor that can fill a sorely needed void or they get tied into the wrong crowd and use that pent up energy for self-destruction and Hernandez was obviously the latter. At every level you had an immature kid who needed guidance but he was constantly failed by Urban Meyer and the University of Florida and Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots ownership. At Florida Hernandez was shielded from accountability and protected from the law by the power of the football program while numerous violations of the law were wiped clean so he could take the field on Saturday. In New England Hernandez was continually pumped with pain killers and told to play through injuries as the Patriots marched to the Super Bowl. Win at all costs is the mentality preached in High School, sometimes earlier, and then carried out as you progress up the athletic ladder. The Hernandez story is one that illustrates what most sports fans already now, players are commodities not people. People will use you when they need you and forget about you when they don’t. You are a very small blip on the radar of their ultimate goal but hey at least the NFL pays them right? The NCAA on the other hand takes kids, yes they may look like men, but they are still kids and force them to take priority over school work while marching them out there on Saturday to contribute to the schools money machine. Programs like the University of Florida will work with local officials to wipe clean a kid’s record but won’t work with that same kid to educate themselves and maximize their time on campus to be a better person and member of society, it’s sickening.
In conclusion what do you get when you mix early onslaught of CTE symptoms, over use of pain killers, a person with sociopathic tendencies, surrounded by the wrong crowd, and a feeling of invincibility brought on by corrupt programs and organizations? A disaster, or in this case a murderer.