July 3, 2013 by Ell and Mike Sports
Aaron Hernandez: A Patriot No More
It’s the fourth quarter of the Pats vs. 49ers during week 15 of the NFL 2012 season. Tom Brady drops back and scans the field firing a strike to Aaron Hernandez for a touchdown. This could be the last touchdown in what was a rising, young career. The Patriots would go on to lose the game, but Aaron Hernandez would go on to lose so much more in 2013.
From his days back at the University of Florida, Hernandez has had a chronicled past with the law. There was even news released about a bar fight in 2007 that QB Tim Tebow tried to break up. However, that’s minor in comparison to the trouble he would continue to find himself in later in his life. Many people knew about the connection between QB Tim Tebow and WR/RB Percy Harvin during Florida’s run while Coach Urban Meyer was there, but what many fail to realize was that on many bailout plays (3rd down conversions) and big plays, Hernandez was Tebow’s target. Not only was he a big target, but he was great after the catch. Unfortunately, while being a key contributor on the field, he was a headache off the field and at different times found himself in trouble.
While being the dynamic player and playmaker he was, Hernandez was not projected as a high draft pick partly because of his blocking ability; but, mainly because of his off the field problems including multiple failed drug tests. With that being said, he was taken in the fourth round by his home state team, New England Patriots. It didn’t take long for him to get accustomed to the NFL, as he would become one of Brady’s top targets next to WR Wes Welker due to his elite versatility, speed, and size. However, Hernandez really became greater with the emergence of TE Rob Gronkowski making them one of the best tight end duos in NFL history. With both tight ends being great playmakers and focal points of the offense, the Pats decided to give them both new contracts. Aaron Hernandez signed a 5-year, 40 million dollar contract in August 2012.
Today, we find ourselves talking amongst each other about how a guy that just signed a multi-million dollar deal could decide to kill a man. What was he thinking? Yes, while it’s true you are innocent until proven guilty in our justice system; there is one thing that Hernandez is guilty of, that’s not being a Patriot. Hours after Hernandez was arrested on six charges including 1st degree murder, he was released by the Patriots organization. An organization that is known for class, respect and excellence had a player bring them extreme disgrace in a very negative light even overshadowing the other usual offseason arrests. The Pats took a chance on Hernandez by drafting him despite his past troubles coming out of school. Obviously, they must’ve thought he had turned the corner because they re-signed him making a large investment to keep him around. Even as recent as February, Hernandez talks about “the Patriot way”, but being arrested surely isn’t the Patriot way. Even his demeanor at his arraignment was not of the Patriot way, as he seemed to have the look of a person who didn’t care and the cold face of a criminal with anger in his heart. Was this the guy off the field that was often in trouble finally revealed? On the field, he seemed to be a fierce competitor; but, never looked as cold as he looked during that day. Whatever it was, it looks as if Hernandez won’t be playing football anytime soon as he will be awaiting his murder trial. Often we see players retire and walk away from the game or just get old and don’t have it anymore, but this is the rare case of a man standing in the way of his own career. There comes a point in every man’s life where you have to chose and prioritize what is really important and what’s not. It’s amazing to see such a talent be restrained like this, when eleven men on a football field had a hard time restraining him. Talent wasted? Yes. We will see how all of this plays out, but Hernandez can’t hide from his off the field issues anymore; everything is out now. Well, maybe the Patriots can use his former teammate at tight end. Say it with me, TEBOW! TEBOW! TEBOW! Maybe not, but he will be a tough young talent to replace.