Nobody’s going to like what I’m about to say, because there’s nothing to like about Aaron Hernandez being charged with murder.
Oh, there will be the usual howling by those who try to turn a tragedy into a jokefest aimed at a rival football team. Let’s get real, though. This kind of news is so bad that even Urban Meyer and Bill Belichick, two of the most powerful men in their industry, lack the muscle and the foresight to keep it from happening.
We’re talking about the taking of a life. Trying to stick any of this nightmare on Meyer, who is accused of letting some of Hernandez’s failed drug tests slide during his time as coach of the Florida Gators, is like saying that any violation of the law, no matter how minor, is a gateway crime to murder.
It’s too far of a leap. It’s saying that coddling a teenager is turning him into a potential killer. No matter what you think of Meyer, and I jumped all over him in print for letting Chris Rainey return to the Gators in 2010 after threatening a girlfriend’s life by phone text, that’s just too far.
All of this is true regardless of what happens with Hernandez. It’s up to the state of Massachusetts to prove that he is guilty of anything in the death of his former “friend” Odin Lloyd. That’s the legal process.
As for the process of coaching a championship football team, it goes like this and it always has.
Coaches collect the best talent they can find, knowing that the protection of their own massive contracts and luxury lifestyles depend upon it. Some of those players are so talented that they wind up being forgiven all sorts of sins along the way, especially if there’s a big game coming up that week. As for the coaches who steadfastly resist this temptation, you won’t find them working the sidelines at the BCS championship game, and eventually, when their bosses get tired of mediocre results, you won’t find them working at all.
If this is evil, Meyer is not the root of it, and if running up way too long a record of player arrests during his six seasons as Gators coach is a dangerous red flag, it wasn’t crimson enough to keep Ohio State from outbidding others to acquire his proven title-building skills as a top-flight recruiter and coach.
Bottom line, Meyer didn’t make Tim Tebow the way he is, and Tebow didn’t make Hernandez, a favored receiver for the former Heisman Trophy winner, the way he is, either.
For a person to commit a murder or to willfully spend time with someone who might requires something very wrong to be going on deep within that person, so deep that no common attempt at discipline or instruction can touch it.
Right about now, many of you are screaming, ‘So you’re saying that we shouldn’t even bother trying to correct bad behavior?” No, of course not. Human nature, however, will never be as logical and fixable as we want it to be. Crime and violence occur in every neighborhood and extended family and workplace, where it is expected and where it absolutely is not. That’s not nice to hear either, but even Disney World has metal detectors at the gates these days.
If everyone is bound and determined to use Hernandez as some sort of celebrity test case, would you say that kicking him off the Gators at some point in his college career would have precluded him from getting all fouled up in illegal arms charges and homicide investigations somewhere down the line?
Or how about the other extreme of giving him everything he wants? The New England Patriots did that last summer by signing Hernandez to a five-year deal worth $40 million with a $12.5 million signing bonus. He basically won the lottery and found a way to foul the wishing well. What a waste.
New England released Hernandez following his Wednesday morning arrest, which means the organization knew how bad the charges were going to be. The Patriot Way has never been about paying players to be a problem, or to take time all the time that’s needed working out their problems. The NFL has a place for teams that do. It’s called last place.
Admittedly, none of the spontaneous pseudo-sociology found here is more trustworthy than anyone else’s. Agree or not, just don’t turn this into some kind of launching point for rival fans.
It makes a game of life and death.