It also should have surprised no one that the Patriots and Bill Belichick were the team to roll the dice.
The Teflon coating on Belichick’s reputation has largely proved to be bulletproof. He gets to be the champion genius hardly associated with controversy, despite the fact he was fined a record $500,000 by the NFL in the Spygate scandal. And despite the fact he has consistently ignored off-field questions by signing controversial players such as Randy Moss, Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, Corey Dillon … and Aaron Hernandez.
By extension, Patriots owner Robert Kraft somehow gets to be seen as the model NFL owner even though the club also was held liable for Spygate, and he also signed off on signing those troubled players whom other teams avoided.
Apparently, if you can help Bob and Bill’s Patriots win, they will conveniently forget the shadier side of your past or perhaps arrogantly assume your proximity to their greatness or Patriots culture will magically change who you are.
It seldom works like that. If you are a problem athlete in high school, chances are good you’ll be one in college. If you are an off-field concern in college, chances are you will be that in the NFL — the likelihood only magnified by sudden fame and wealth compounding most star athletes’ long-nurtured feeling of entitlement.
Hernandez is the 27th NFL player arrested since the Super Bowl.
Really, guys? Seriously!? Few arrests are as scandalous as Hernandez’s, but is even a “minor” arrest excusable when one is being paid millions to not only perform on the field but also to stay out of embarrassing trouble?
All of the examples of sports stars gone wrong and giving athletes a bad name do not make them anywhere near the majority, but the negative attention created so often is out of proportion with the relatively small number.
Good guy Kevin Durant donates $1 million to Oklahoma tornado victims and it’s a sweet little story for a day.
This one will last as long as Aaron Hernandez’s trial does, stinking all the while, pulling the NFL and sports down into the mud with it as it slogs along toward its inevitably losing conclusion.
The same day the Patriots quickly erased their accused murderer from their roster, Boston area stores expunged their shelves of all souvenirs bearing his name or number.
A hero one day, disappeared the next. Except Hernandez won’t be gone at all. He’ll be in a courtroom, on a TV near you.
Take care who you allow up onto that pedestal of yours, sports fans. Be vigilant. Demand more than stats and a smile.
The player might seem worthy. Make sure the man is, too.