Aaron Hernandez stood in court this week, a suit and tie covering his multiple arm and chest tattoos, and calmly pleaded not guilty to two counts of first degree murder and various other charges. Hernandez, 24, has been in jail since his arrest last year in connection with the June 2013 execution style murder of Odin Lloyd. These, however, were new charges, for murders committed in 2012 when, according to prosecutors, an accidental bump on a dance floor and a spilled drink ended in two men being shot to death. Lloyd was an acquaintance, the boyfriend of Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister. Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado were apparently strangers, who seemingly were in the wrong club at the wrong time.
With all the headline grabbing sports stories that have been popping up lately, from Johnny Football in Vegas, to the vile Donald Sterling and an inspiring Michael Sam, I had almost forgotten about Hernandez, a former standout tight end for the New England Patriots and Florida Gators. But Hernandez is not someone who should be forgotten about. This is a violent man, and I don’t mean the type of “violent” as all football players must be on the field. This a man who seemingly has no regard for human life, and will pull the trigger whenever his ire is raised. The 24 year old Hernandez has a public record that goes back 7 years, and we can only speculate to his even earlier years as his juvenile records are sealed.
But let’s take a look at what we do know:
According to the Orlando Sentinel, after just arriving at the University of Florida in 2007, a 17-year-old Hernandez was arrested for getting into a fight in front of a local campus hangout known as The Swamp and breaking a man’s eardrum with a sucker punch. Hernandez received a deferred prosecution. Just weeks later Corey Smith, 28, and Justin Glass, 19, after an altercation with Hernandez and three of his teammates, were driving around Gainesville, when someone shot at their car. Hernandez and his fellow Gators were questioned at length by the police but no charges were filed. Hernandez also reportedly failed multiple drug tests at Florida, though he was suspended only once for those offenses.
Hernandez left the University of Florida three years later as the Mackey Award winner (given annually to college football’s best tight end), but concerns about his behavior away from the game saw him drop until the fourth round of the draft when the Patriots finally chose him. He threatened to “f*** up” Wes Welker just days after being drafted because the veteran Welker didn’t show him how to operate the replay machine. In February 2013 a former friend of Hernandez alleged in a Florida lawsuit that he lost his right eye when Hernandez shot him in the face as they argued outside a Miami club. In February of this year while incarcerated, Hernandez was accused of savagely beating a fellow inmate (who was handcuffed at the time). He is also being investigated for allegedly threatening to kill a correctional officer, who according to a fellow ex-inmate, stopped Hernandez from receiving extra food. Hernandez is alleged to have made machine gun noises at the officer and threatened to “kill the guard and shoot his family” when he is released from jail.
So since 2007, the 24-year-old Aaron Hernandez been charged with, or linked to, the shootings of six people in four incidents. He has posed for selfies in the mirror while a wielding a .45 and covered in “Bloods” regalia and has the word BLOOD tattooed on his right hand. In conversations with Rolling Stone, friends of Hernandez, who insisted they not be named, say Hernandez had been using angel dust, had fallen in with a crew of gangsters and convinced himself that his life was in danger, carrying a gun wherever he went. A disturbed and violent man without question. So how could such a hi-profile athlete, his face known by everyone in his communities and in the spotlight where ever he went, manage to string together this many acts of extreme violence before being brought to justice? Crime may not pay, but being an elite athlete does…in many ways.