by Hal Bent
So much for the quiet off-season in New England for the Patriots. Instead of trying to wrangle an invitation on former Cowboys' coach Jimmy Johnson's boat for deep seas fishing and coaching chatter with Jimmy's pal Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is going to be knee deep in video trying to re-arrange the Patriots offense without either of his all-world tight ends to dictate mismatches across the board. Tight end Rob Gronkowski continues to recover from his 5th surgery (4 on the forearm, 1 on the back) in the past 8 months, while each news report seems to indicate that the odds of Aaron Hernandez playing football in New England again get longer and longer.
The Patriots draft for value, and hit home runs with Hernandez and Gronk. Just to have gotten the production out of them for 3 seasons, if neither plays again (which is an unrealistic worst-case scenario) makes them steals in the NFL draft. Put it this way to the hyperventilating talking heads who want to make their drafting into a negative now, do you want 3 great seasons of Gronk and Hernandez or however many mediocre seasons of someone else (Say Pitta and Dickson in Baltimore, for example). In the NFL, anything over 3 years of production from any player is gravy, and both tight ends are still young and potentially (best case scenario here) able to contribute on the field for many years.
Personally, I am at a loss with this Aaron Hernandez situation. How does someone get themselves in that situation and then leave a trail of bread crumbs leading right to your front door? US Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton both tarnished their reputations with the cover-ups of their--well, let's be nice and say "issues"--issues led to their problems, rather than coming out with the truth and then dealing with the repercussions.
Hernandez has a lot of questions to be answered regarding his role in a murder and the fact that at best he was involved in a cover-up of a crime. To be given the opportunity Hernandez has received with earning millions of dollars playing a game, it is a shame he is in this position. The fact that he has a young child now and is destroying opportunity to give his child the life he did not have due to his background growing up is what really galls me. I was raised that the role of a parent is to put the child first and you are judged by whether you can give your children a better life than yours.
Instead, Hernandez has let down his coaches, his teammates, and his employer by getting involved in this horrible murder and bringing this indignity upon the New England Patriots. His immaturity and ignorance are a disgrace. To his family, fiance, and young child (who will learn about this incident that took place while as an infant), such a course of action is embarrassing and shameful. Although I know it happens all the time (we just don't hear about it when done by non-celebrities), one expects fatherhood to encourage him to put aside his stupid, youthful troubles.
As a citizen, as a friend, as a father, as a teammate, and as a man, Aaron Hernandez is failing. Here's hoping he can realize this, and get his life back on track by doing the right thing. Of course, once the Lawyers are involved, the right thing gets trampled by "the best legal course".
Now, the true test for Hernandez begins. The fact he may not play in 2013 for the Patriots takes a backseat to the fact there is a dead person and answers about the death of Odin Lloyd take precedent to any "games". Now is the time that tests Aaron Hernandez. Let's see if he can be a real man and take the necessary responsibility for his actions.
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