Former athlete leaves more than a violent legacy

Gifted athlete. Father. Murderer. 

The public has formed many opinions regarding Aaron Hernandez in the past week since the news broke that the former New England Patriots tight end was found dead in his jail cell, hanging from his bed sheet with the Bible verse John 3:16 written across his forehead.

Mixed emotions and reactions have begun to permeate social media outlets. The majority are horrible comments condemning a life they knew nothing about besides what the media decided to inform them on. The minority being sympathetic voices that realized that he was a human being with a 4-year-old daughter, and despite making some terrible choices, his death was a tragedy to those close to him. They probably don’t appreciate the negative media coverage his suicide has attracted.

A privileged life thrown away. Hernandez had always had an athletic advantage on his competition because of his size. He won the Gatorade’s Football Player of the Year his senior year of high school in Bristol, Connecticut. He set state records with 24 touchdowns and 1,807 receiving yards. He was highly regarded as the top tight end prospect by college scouts. He then moved on to the University of Florida where he won a National Championship in 2009, a game in which he led the Gators in receiving yards. The following year he won the John Mackey Award for the nation’s best tight end before declaring for the 2010 draft.

The All-American was selected 113th overall by the Patriots, a day after they drafted another top tight end, Rob Gronkowski. The two soon became the best tight end duo on any team in the NFL. He was the youngest active player on any NFL team. After being named a Pro Bowler in 2011, Hernandez signed the second biggest contract extension by a tight end ever; five years, $40 million. The only larger extension given to a tight end was Gronkowski’s $53 million.

Then in June 2013, Odin Lloyd was found murdered with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back a mile away from Hernandez’s home, which was searched after the Massachusetts State Police obtained a warrant. His case did not start off well, as the evidence was immediately obtained that he destroyed his cell phone, home security system, and hired a cleaning crew for his house the day Lloyd’s body was found. Two days later the Patriots announced that Hernandez was not allowed to enter Gillette Stadium, the field where the Patriots play, to avoid the media. Six days after that, Hernandez was taken into custody, being charged with five different gun charges and first-degree murder. Less than two hours later, the Patriots announced they were releasing Hernandez.

After close to two years, on April 15, 2015, Hernandez was found guilty of first-degree murder, which is automatically accompanied by a life sentence without parole in the state of Massachusetts. Four days after the two-year anniversary of his conviction, Hernandez committed suicide with notes around him to his family that said he would see them in heaven, and for them not to shed a tear.

A new theory arose that Hernandez took his own life because, under Massachusetts state law, if someone dies during the appeal of a conviction, the conviction becomes nullified, making his Patriots contract violations nonexistent, and the $15 million that was guaranteed in his contract, even if he never played another down after he signed, goes to his daughter. I’m sure this will remain speculation, since Hernandez can’t inform us of his reasoning, but if proven correct, I find it hard not to find honor in that move.

I am in no way trying to give praise or draw sympathy for a convicted murderer. I am simply presenting the argument on the other side of the spectrum, and expressing my opinion that nobody, including myself, has the right to decide that the end of his life was a positive thing.