By Derek Franks
A bad guy killed a bad guy today. Somewhere, not too far from you, some gang member, criminal or drug mastermind killed another gang member, criminal or drug mastermind. It happens. On a daily basis. And, fortunately for us, usually innocent civilians aren’t caught in the crossfire. It’s just one bad seed eliminating another from the face of the earth. And sooner or later, that bad seed—either by another criminal or by the law—will also be eliminated from society.
It sounds like one of your favorite mob movies, but really it’s just the universe delivering a rare helping of justice to the darkest underbelly of society, then allowing its operations to continue much to the rest of the world’s misfortune.
That above sentence is exactly what happened with former New England Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez. The recently jailed NFL star is suspected of (and likely will be convicted of) killing a man named Odin Lloyd, then very sloppily dropping his body at a park—or killing him at the park, one or the other— near his house and then leaving a trail of evidence and suspicious behavior behind him like a dog who walked around in the mud then tracked it through the house.
Fittingly, I imagine that Hernandez will be in the doghouse before too long.
So why are we talking about this guy? Why am I talking about this guy? Why should anyone give this story a second of attention, even though all evidence suggests that it doesn’t deserve it? Hernandez doesn’t deserve it. The criminals he associates with don’t deserve it. The man he allegedly killed honestly might not even deserve it either.
The resounding argument of course is that Hernandez is a star athlete in the most popular league in the world. And so, it is a fascinating situation that the media must now obsess over because he, after all, is a prominent figure in society seemingly committing a truly awful act. He also was supposed to be a key component in the New England offense this coming season, an ultra-talented weapon for future hall-of-fame quarterback, Tom Brady. He was even engaged to be married and has a daughter with his bride to be.
Yes, there is no shortage of fascinating storylines from this situation. Of course that makes it a media magnet for all the reporters and news stations and twitter feeds to fixate upon. But make no mistake, it’s time for this fixation to stop. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I argue that the media needs to cut off its on-going stream of “news” dedicated to Hernandez.
Just like the scenarios that opened this commentary, it is likely the case of Aaron Hernandez is nothing more than a thug killing another thug. Lloyd’s personality and past behavior remain in question, sure. We don’t know as much about him as we’d like to. But we do know that he was a drug dealer and that he hung out with a bad crowd. The kind of crowd that, if you do something wrong, you might wind up dead.
What is known about Hernandez is substantially more. He grew up in hardship. His family was poor, working class; his father passed when he was 16. He was a remarkably talented football player; even in high school he garnered a lot of attention before making his way to the University of Florida.
Once in college, Hernandez left a life of hardships for a life of trouble. That trouble was never far from him, never allowing him to escape, no matter how much he excelled on the football field. Many recall a night out at a prominent Florida bar where he became angered with the establishment’s manager for charging him for two drinks he believe he hadn’t ordered. The then Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow, stepped in to pay for the drinks to solve the issue, but Hernandez wasn’t satisfied and instead settled it his own way by punching the manager repeatedly in the face, causing him to suffer a blown out ear drum.
Many teammates attested to the fact that Hernandez livelihood and “friends” were not something that they wanted to be remotely associated with, something almost unheard of in the universe of football players who typically pride themselves on calling their teammates family. After college, when he was gearing up for the NFL, the preliminary psychological tests players take for the league showed that he was “Living on the edge of acceptable behavior” and cautioned that his behavior and personality could “become a problem.” Additionally, he registered the lowest possible score on the league’s maturity test, a “1 out of 10.”
We now know Hernandez acquaintances are no upstanding citizens. It is suggested that he is a member of gangs and was involved in drugs in one way or another. Furthermore, he appears to be connected to several other murders, in one way or another, making it possible that this “NFL superstar”—a title that is supposedly one of the more coveted in the world— has been living an alternate life of serious crime.
What connected the two, alleged killer and victim, was the unlikely “romance” that had occurred: Lloyd’s girlfriend was, in fact, the sister of Hernandez’s future bride and mother of his child. But what separated them was obviously the success of Hernandez’s career, which had eluded Lloyd, a talented football player too, who never made it to college. And yet, they ended up on a strikingly similar path to self-destruction.
Regardless of the actual criminal pasts of either Hernandez or Lloyd, or to what extreme those crimes occurred, or the extent to which the two were actually acquainted, one thing is for sure, they offered little to the benefit of society and did much to objectify it. Hernandez made millions, living the life as one of the most well known NFL players. Lloyd was in poverty and trying to make it in a semi-pro football league. But both had involved themselves in an unbreakable cycle of wrongdoing.
In the end, neither should be glorified. Unfortunately, there was probably some hope that Lloyd might have some day changed his ways. We may never know how far off the path he was. As for Hernandez, what we appear to have in our midst is a spider; one who, behind the scenes of a magnificent show of football charade, spun a web of lies, deceit, poor character and criminal behavior that ultimately led to the death of another. He doesn’t deserve the press, regardless of how fascinating this story is.
It’s time for us to stop obsessing, stop debating, and stop keeping cameras outside his home or fixated on endless searches for evidence. It’s time to quit giving Hernandez this attention that he doesn’t deserve. Let him go, America. Let him disappear into the depths of a life behind bars.
The way I see it, this case is nothing more than one criminal killing another. And that’s a good enough reason for me to forget the whole ordeal and just move on. The rest of us should do the same.