By Sterling Pingree
I’ve tried for 4 years to find the most appropriate word to describe the Aaron Hernandez saga. The first that come to mind are wild, crazy or unbelievable. Bill Belichick said last week to CNBC that it was tragic and agreed with the word “heartbreaking”. This past Wednesday morning, the final verse of Hernandez’s story was seemingly written in a prison cell when he took one more life; his own.
Platitudes in professional sports are thrown around often, a great win isn’t enough because it has to be broken down, quantified and put into historical context. Definitive and grandiose words are used to describe athletes or particular games like: greatest, most unbelievable or wildest. The phrase that gets used with more and more regularity is, “We’ll never see that again” and perhaps that’s the best way to describe the Hernandez ordeal. We’ll never again see a professional athlete play for collegiate national championships, Super Bowls and on the highest profile team in sports while living a double life as a murderer.
This seems like something that might have happened in the first half of the 19th century when things weren’t known about people like Moe Berg, who was a Red Sox catcher turned international spy during World War II. It seems entirely plausible that during the 1930’s and 40’s that we wouldn’t know the Red Sox catcher was a spy in the off season. But in this generation of cell phones cameras, Snap Chat and live streaming, where nothing goes undocumented or unrecorded. It feels like we would know that something like this is happening. We are flooded with information and random bits of athlete’s everyday lives, why wouldn’t there be a TMZ video of Hernandez shooting two men in the streets of Boston. It’s almost more surprising that there wasn’t video of the incident retweeted the very next day.
Hernandez was acquitted of the double homicide from 2012, but it feels safe to say that the court of public opinion has hung those two murders on his rap sheet. More so than the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, it’s the 2012 allegations that are the hardest for me to comprehend. Think about it like this: after rumors of Hernandez killing Odin Lloyd, he was arrested within days, the Patriots cut him and he never left jail again. However, after the double homicide from the summer of 2012, Hernandez signed a 5-year contract extension and played an entire football season with this secret life. This feels more dishonest to me, that a person could function, seemingly in a normal way with things like this happening in their personal life off of the field is mind blowing. It not only makes me question professional athletes, it makes me question everybody. If someone can hide that, it changes my comprehension of the boundaries of what people can bury.
There is no sense of trying to figure out why Hernandez did what he did, because dead men tell no tales and with a saga as multi-layered as this, there can be no less than a dozen reasons for how or why something like this could take place. There’s no question in my mind that we’ll never see something like this happen again, but with time comes context. Maybe the Hernandez saga will be looked back on with skepticism like we do something like Moe Berg and people will say “That could never happen now.” We never thought this could happen now either, and we can only pray it never happens again.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.