Iím not the first to say it and I wonít be the last, but Iím perplexed by the Aaron Hernandez story.
Hernandez is the former New England Patriots tight end charged with the murder of his friend Odin Lloyd.
Let me start by saying I believe in the legal system and that someone is innocent until proven guilty. Our justice system is not perfect, but as the son of a lawyer, I believe in due process.
With that said, Iím not mystified by what has happened to Hernandez. Unfortunately, it happens everyday.
What shocks me is that Hernandez is in the situation. He is one of thousands of athletes who tried to make it to the NFL and did. Not only did he defy the odds of reaching the NFL, Hernandez was a starter and was considered a great player. He had just signed a new multimillion-dollar contract, yet his life as an NFL star is potentially over and his future hangs on a thread.
He has become so unpopular that the Patriots hosted a jersey exchange a few days ago that drew more than 1,200 people.
EA Sports, a video gaming company, has removed Hernandez from its Madden and NCAA lineups.
Hernandez and his troubles are not unique. He is among a growing number of athletes who make it in the competitive world of professional sports and who fall from grace.
There was the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal of 2007, now retired boxer Mike Tysonís rape conviction in 1992, and the drug trafficking conviction of former Dallas Cowboys receiver Sam Hurd last year. Also, we cannot forget about Floyd Mayweather Jr., the current world boxing champion, who served a jail term for a domestic abuse conviction.
Hernandez is not even the first professional football player to be associated with a murder scandal.
Rae Carruth, a former wide receiver with the Carolina Panthers is currently incarcerated for conspiracy to commit the first-degree murder of Cherica Adams (the mother of his child), shooting into an occupied vehicle and attempting to use an instrument to destroy an unborn child.
Carruthís expected release date, according to Internet reports, will be October 2018.
The common thread between almost every one of these professional athletes is the poor choice of friends they kept around after they made it to pros.
I donít understand it. After an athlete has put in years of hard work and sacrifice to be good enough to make it to the pros, Shouldnít they have invested the same effort in choosing their associates? Being able to play a professional sport is like hitting the genetic lottery. Once an athlete makes it to the NFL, there is no rule that they have to hang around people of ill repute or to be at their every beck and call. Read this slowly ó you canít save everyone. It took me a long time to understand that. Iím not saying that Hernandez was trying to save anyone, but there is a wise saying, ďtell me who your friends are and Iíll tell you who you are.Ē
Sadly, the popularity of Hernandezís fall is more about the team he plays for and his teammates. What should be remembered is that Odin Lloyd was the victim here and one way or another, justice will be served.