• Circular Circumstances



    A jury of twelve of our peers has found that former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is guilty of murder in the first degree. Despite what many legal experts said was a tough case to prove, the state of Massachusetts now considers the former Gator a convicted man. It's a wonder how Hernandez got to this point.

    Nature versus nurture is long-standing psychological argument. When people look back on the life of Aaron Hernandez, there are going to be a lot of people wondering exactly how it all happened the way it did. I once wrote a piece that gave some history of his life that also served as an apology for some thoughts I had about my fantasy team. Since the trial could not provide the murder weapon or give us a definitive reason why this happened, it is easy to let the mind wonder. Perhaps, the missing why was the catalyst for the jury taking a week to convince themselves of his guilt.

    Things like this are always weird for me because I normally look for the logic in any situation. I do even when something seems so illogical like this. Did his reported affiliations become his family after his father died? Was this done as a way to prove himself to them? Was it proof of something else? What was missing from the life he had made for himself? Was this proof about how people change or about how they don't change?

    For those who may have forgotten, several well-written articles detailed his life. He was from Bristol and did not grow up in a dangerous area. He even played basketball on a team coached by Geno Auriemma. He was supposed to be a likeable, affable kid. Then his father died from complications that occurred after routine hernia surgery. He always played well on the field, but things changed for him off the field while at Florida. He was followed by rumors of marijuana use and gang affiliations. There were a couple of fights, a possible sucker punch. He fell in the draft due to those whispers along with an actual failed drug test.

    He succeeded in the NFL as an athletic tight end opposite Rob Gronkowski in a new-look Patriots offense. After 175 catches over three seasons, he was rewarded with a contract extension in August of 2012 worth $40 Million with $12.5 Million in guarantees. It seemed like he was at the top of the world. He might have been at the very bottom.

    Did anyone ever really know Aaron Hernandez? Were the perceptions of defiance and ego that we saw during trial the real Aaron Hernandez? Was he an individual that never actually found happiness? Was the pull of the life he chose always there? I have heard arguments from people that sometimes people cannot be changed; they are born in a certain way. Other say that genetics can be overcome with a proper environment. Also, trauma can lead to changed lives. That can happen in positive or negative ways. Clearly, if his father's death was the beginning of his downfall, it lead to the most dire of paths. He had a companion in his life, a child and had signed a new contract not ten months before June 17, 2013. How could someone with everything many people could want put himself in a situation where there will be nothing left for himself or his family in the end?

    Maybe the nurture versus nature argument doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that we are here today. It certainly matters more that children are missing fathers than figuring out why Hernandez left that club, why his texted his friend before the same friend wound up dead, why he got into that car, why he left his security cameras on or why the mother of his child took a box to a dumpster.

    Even if we never find out anything more about Hernandez, there are a few things we do know. We know that it is possible that he had already been down this path before. It was about a month before his contract extension. He will face trial for two more murders committed in July of 2012. The circumstances surrounding that case are stunningly similar to this one. We always use the term "staying on the straight and narrow" for people who have changed for the better and talk about downfalls being similar to a "downward spiral." In early 2013, many reports stated that that Hernandez had seemed like his was following that good path. The straight path. For the time being; and possibly for the rest of his life, Hernandez will walk a straight line right to the prison mess hall. It turns out that "mess" is the perfect descriptor for what his life has become.

    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Welcome back, Rich. Nice work.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Excellent work, Rich. I guarantee there's a whole network of people right now lamenting what they could have done differently to better mold him as he was growing up. Some kids "have no chance" so to speak, but Hernandez clearly did. Unfortunately, it seems that he allowed a tough circumstance to send him down the wrong path. There are a multitude of tragedies affiliated with this story.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      And with everything said, what might have doomed him was his own legal team! One of the weaknesses in the case was that the prosecution could not put him *at* the murder. They could put him close, but they had no evidence to say to the jury 'he was there.'

      Until closing arguments, when his own lawyer told the Jury that Aaron was there, but did not kill Lloyd, that he "was looking on in horror as the others killed Odin Lloyd, and he did not know what to do."

      While I can understand the defenses thought process, the fact that it took over a week to come back showed that there was some doubt, and more than one juror pointed to that comment as the one that pushed them over the edge into deciding guilt.

      For the record, I think he did it, and I thought so all along, but, man, that conviction was a very near run thing.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
      And with everything said, what might have doomed him was his own legal team! One of the weaknesses in the case was that the prosecution could not put him *at* the murder. They could put him close, but they had no evidence to say to the jury 'he was there.'

      Until closing arguments, when his own lawyer told the Jury that Aaron was there, but did not kill Lloyd, that he "was looking on in horror as the others killed Odin Lloyd, and he did not know what to do."

      While I can understand the defenses thought process, the fact that it took over a week to come back showed that there was some doubt, and more than one juror pointed to that comment as the one that pushed them over the edge into deciding guilt.

      For the record, I think he did it, and I thought so all along, but, man, that conviction was a very near run thing.
      By the end, I don't think it hurt or helped him that the legal team admitted he was at the scene. The prosecution did a great job of taking every piece of evidence they could to already prove he was there. They used locations of cell phones, the time it would take to get back to his house to be on camera with the weapon that was never found, a shoe print from his Air Jordan, a joint with his DNA on it and a key from the rental car found in Lloyd's pocket to basically leave no doubt to that particular fact.

      I'm just glad he is off the street. His pattern from college until now is pretty clear.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      And, thank you for the kind words.