Whether former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez ultimately is found guilty of being a mad dog killer straight out of a Quenten Tarantino fever dream is a matter for the American justice system to decide. Expect some kind of verdict any decade now.
The bodies are stacking up, though. Already indicted in the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, Hernandez Thursday was indicted for a 2012 Massachusetts drive-by shooting that killed two others. He officially crossed over to a new and thankfully previously unexplored territory for the star athlete in trouble — from alleged impulse killer to alleged sociopathic semi-serial killer.
The 2012 shooting occurred about six weeks before Hernandez signed a $40 million contract extension with the Pats. If the charges are proven, he played that season leading one of the most extraordinary double lives in the history of the league.
What does all this say about the Patriots?
For one, whatever the franchise may have known about Hernandez’s spotty past, it could not have suspected he was in any way capable of that which he is now charged. Even the most cynical observer can’t claim that a team would overlook such horrible tendencies for the sake of a few catches. It could not knowingly hand over that kind of contract to that kind of man. If it took this long for the police to connect Hernandez to the 2012 case, could the Patriots really have done more?
Teams can test and question and claim to delve deeply into a player’s soul. And in the end, they are just as blind to the worst he is capable of as the rest of us.
The quote being most circulated now is one from Hernandez shortly after he signed that big contract. It haunts the Patriots just as it does anyone who would like to think they know the player for whom they cheer:
“I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, making the right decisions so I can have a good life and be there to live a good life with my family.”