Even before Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was formally charged, the team issued a statement extending their sympathy to the family and friends of Odin Lloyd, whom Hernandez is alleged to have murdered. In the same statement, the Patriots expressed disappointment that one of their players was arrested and they released Hernandez because, as the statement said, “we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
There had been earlier reports that Hernandez had been less than entirely cooperative with police investigating the murder of Lloyd, and that he had intentionally damaged his cell phone and the surveillance equipment in his home.
Some people following the story must have wondered why Hernandez wasn’t charged much earlier with obstruction of justice. Wednesday’s developments, including the detailed recreation of Hernandez’s movements on the night Lloyd was killed, suggest that the authorities had more serious charges in mind.
Hernandez was an accomplished and celebrated football player. He was also a man with a history of involvement in incidents which demonstrated at best bad judgement and at worst, felonious behavior.
He was offered an opportunity to play for the Patriots anyway, and the evidence suggests that the opportunity to earn $40 million playing football through 2018 didn’t much alter his attitude or his behavior. He wept at the 2012 news conference at which his long-term contract was announced. He wrote a large check to the Myra Kraft Foundation. Now he’s being held on a murder charge.
It would be presumptuous to conclude anything more about what Hernandez has done before he is tried. But it’s perhaps fair to suggest that the extent to which he was celebrated as a football player in college, even as he was breaking some of the rules, and the way he was embraced by Patriots and the NFL despite his previous behavior off the field, contributed to Hernandez’s skewed view of the way this world would always work.