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Monday 18th Dec 2017

Diane likes to watch the Investigation Discovery channel, which I refer to as "The Death Channel." Along with standards like "48 Hours," and "On the Case With Paula Zahn," there are some shows that poke even more to the unknown and dark side of the human experience. 

"Who the Bleep did I Marry," and especially "Deadly Devotions" are programs that truly look at how we can be exploited by the more devious side of society, and though these shows are serious, dealing with murder and omnipotent and arrogant behaviors, similarly are they goofy. The shows are silly in that invariably there are a bunch of dumbells trying to pull off major crimes, thinking they can outsmart forensics and video tape with flimsy excuses and rationales.

For some sad reason, the suicide of former Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez last Wednesday, someone tossed off by the rest of society as if he were one of the Investigation Discovery shows incarnate, living with the title "Evil Kin", reminded me of all this and the choices we make and how things can simply go way wrong all over.

I still remember vividly how excited Fantasy Football players were following Hernandez' solid 2012 season when he ripped off a 42-yard run, showing all of the world what a deadly weapon he was, able to run, catch, and block. Hernandez paired with the equally dangerous Rob Gronkowski gave the Patriots a double Tight End combo with possibilities like no other team before.

That off-season, the Pats upped the committment to Hernandez, giving him a $40 million five-year contract extension. Truthfully, the thought of a pair of young, talented, and aggressive receivers under the tuteledge of Bill Belichick, who manipulates his roster and talent better than any other coach ever it seems, was too much to imagine.

But, as the Chief Dan George--a character in the great film "Little Big Man"--said, "sometimes the wind don't blow and grass don't grow."

As it was, I was on a shuttle, riding from Midway Airport to downtown Chicago on the way to attending the FSTA Summer convention when the news broke that Hernandez had been busted in association with the murder of Odin Lloyd on June 26, 2013. At the convention that speculated on player performance, the coming football season, and athletes in general, there was certainly a ton of buzz and speculation surrounding the whole affair.

In the end, the whole story just seemed like another run of a special member of society--this time an athlete, rather than an actor or politician--having their own set of rules and accountabilities from the rest of us.

There was never a question how talented Hernandez was, being an All-American at the University of Florida, and winning the John Mackey award in 2009 as the best collegiate Tight End in the country. The receiver was then drafted in the fourth round in 2010, a day after the Pats selected Gronk as part of the same draft.

During his subsequent rookie year, Hernandez was the youngest rostered starter in the NFL and became the youngest player to catch over 100 yards of passes since 1960, completing his first full season with 45 receptions, 563 yards, and six scores. In 2011, Hernandez was a Pro Bowl alternate, but what he really did to catch our eye was run for 42 yards against the Giants to kick off Super Bowl XLVI.

But, clearly attitude and entitlement were also paralleling the talented but troubled receiver, who was linked to a felony battery charge following a bar fight in Gainesville in 2007, a double-shooting in Gainesville three months later, a 2012 Boston double homocide (for which Hernandez was ironically cleared just a few days before he took his life), a car shooting which cost a friend his sight in one eye on June 13, 2013, and then five days later, the murder of Odin Lloyd for which Hernandez suddenly took the fall.

I guess as with many celebrities, Hernandez simply felt he could do whatever he wanted and get away with just about anything, much like those who are eventually found culpable in shows like "Evil Kin," and surely, Hernandez was not only screaming for attention, but for someone or something to give him boundaries of behavior, something that never did happen until he went too far.

With his arrest and conviction, Hernandez was wiped clean of the NFL, of the Patriots, of Canton (who removed a photo of the young star scoring immediately following his arrest), and his death Wednesday probably tied together all the elements of a wasted life to the tune that most people reading that Hernandez had taken his own felt "good riddance."

And, I am not about to argue with them,  or suggest he was a soul worth saving. Although, in my view, we are all worth such salvation, irrespective of when it comes to us.

What bothers me so much about Hernandez and his meteoric ups and downs is how someone so talented, with everything in the world we would theoretically want to make us happy was not enough. The fame of the NFL, a $40 million contract, TV exposure, a partner and child (Hernandez and his partner Shayanna had a daughter Avielle in 2012) did not provide enough validation or confirmation of his existence that he had to kill and pretty much destroy the lives of at least four people--himself, Lloyd, his wife and daughter--in order to prove something that in the end meant nothing but tragedy and sorrow all around.

It is a sad commentary and reminder that certainly money and external success mean very little when push comes to shove. 

You can always find me @lawrmichaels.


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