The downfall of the former star Gator tight end is now complete.
Aaron Hernandez has been found guilty of first degree murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd. Lloyd was shot six times in the middle of the night almost two years ago, and prosecutors have speculated that this was because Lloyd knew too much about Hernandez’s participation in a fatal drive by shooting in Boston two years earlier. Regardless, whatever minute chance Hernandez had of living a semi-normal life again, let alone playing in the NFL again, are now gone.
UPDATE: not that it’s any surprise, but Aaron Hernandez has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
More importantly, what Hernandez has now officially been declared responsible for leaves people on all sides with irreparable sadness, and leaves those outside the issue looking in with the same feeling for those who are directly feeling it.
There’s sadness for Odin Lloyd, a young man with so much more in front of him than Hernandez allowed him to accomplish. Sadness for his family and friends, who were robbed of his presence and the potential joy and/or benefits stemming from whatever he may have accomplished. Sadness for Hernandez’s friends and family, the vast majority (but not all) of whom had absolutely nothing to do with this and now have to live the rest of their lives knowing someone they were close with is guilty of the worst crime one can commit. And yes, there’s even a twinge of sadness for Hernandez himself, an incredibly gifted NFL TE with Hall of Fame potential who threw it all away.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Hernandez. In fact, I’d like to watch him get put to sleep on an operating table for what he did (I know, Massachusetts doesn’t have the death penalty, but that’s another issue). But just to think about what lay ahead for him- being part of a Super Bowl winning team in 2014, Pro Bowls, setting records with Rob Gronkowski for receiving totals for tight end tandems, and maybe even a Hall of Fame induction- and to think that he could be such a heartless monster off the field is quite depressing.
In America, we like our heroes on the field to be the best type of people off it, and Hernandez certainly was a hero for lots of people. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I grew up adoring Hernandez. I’m 21 now, and thus I was 14-16 when he was tearing up SEC defenses, and finishing up my teen years when he was starting to come on as an NFL player. To learn that one of my childhood heroes is now officially a murderer is absolutely sickening. And hell, I’m one of hundreds of thousands of people in this boat. Maybe even millions, when you add Gators and Patriots fans together. Whatever the number is, it’s a lot. Of course, the impact his actions had on Lloyd’s family is incomparably worse than the random fan- I’m not arguing that- but he has brought feelings of anger, sadness and betrayal upon millions more.
If there’s a lesson in all this for us fans, it’s to never take the portrayal of someone you see on TV at face value. Oh, there are a few high profile athletes who are squeaky clean all the way through- Derek Jeter, Tim Tebow and Michael Jordan just to name a few- but most of these star athletes have something hidden deep down that’s not so peachy. Maybe it’s not as dark as murder, but there’s usually something that nobody knows about. Alex Rodriguez was one of the biggest stars and one of the most loved ones, until his use of steroids came out. Tiki Barber was an easy fan favorite for the New York Giants, at least until he retired in his prime, fought with and eventually lashed out at two time winning Super Bowl coach Tom Coughlin and had marital problems- all of which occurred while he was in his prime. I can go on and on, but hopefully you get it. So just be careful who you show so much adulation for, because more often than not, something bad is going on at the same time. It’s a sad truth, but it’s the truth nonetheless. That’s the world we live in.
Most of the not-so-nice things celebrities wind up being exposed for, however, are fixable. This one is not. Hernandez has damaged the lives of millions (obviously some worse than others) and this time, there’s no remedying it. While this verdict may bring the Lloyd family one step closer to closure, it also officially makes a football hero the ultimate villain. And so this is a sad day, one that leaves a nasty wound that not even the greatest healer of all- time- can heal.