Opinion: Aaron Hernandez still feels like a problem for Patriots fans

Aaron Hernandez Tom Brady
For several years, Aaron Hernandez was “one of us.” Credit: Getty Images

“Big shocker: The Patriots are beating up on the crappy AFC East again! Kind of like Aaron Hernandez wailing away on that guy in prison, huh?”

Roughly 14 versions of this awful joke will be told next season, because, as you’ve heard by now, Aaron Hernandez isn’t doing much to improve his image while incarcerated for charges he faces from the murder of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez beat up a fellow inmate at the Bristol County House of Corrections on Tuesday. The inmate was rendered defenseless, evidently handcuffed, as Hernandez lit into him.

Clearly, no reasonable person would suggest that being a Patriots fan means you support a murderer. Then again, sports fans typically aren’t reasonable people. Hernandez jokes made at the expense of New England fans happen, albeit in jest, because fans of other teams know our dirty secret: 403 days after his last significant football moment, Aaron Hernandez still feels like our problem.

Carrying the burden here makes no sense. We don’t pine away for his squandered potential. Heck, we barely think about him. The mere fact that this story was broken by TMZ, a publication not exactly known as the beacon of investigative sports journalism, tells us everything we need to know about Hernandez’s place in our lives at this point.

So, Hernandez is a sideshow; THE cautionary tale of cautionary tales. That’s all a given. It’s the everlasting baggage, the guilt that percolates whenever a Jets fan makes a Hernandez joke, which is of particular interest to me. Why, after all this time, do we still care?


The obvious explanation is that humans have a conscience that extends beyond how well someone can run, jump, and catch a football. But there’s more to this. When thinking about how we view players, it’s abundantly apparent that fans are wired rather strangely. In utilitarian terms, players are simply commodities. But more importantly, in the time they represent the city we call home, they are OUR commodities. Because in our deranged minds, a player’s success is our success.

It’s just curious considering A. We don’t really know these guys and B. The goals of fans and players aren’t necessarily aligned. It’s a universal problem for sports fans everywhere. We want it to matter, to feel like we’re in this together, and for a team to take on the personality of the city plays in (the Yankees are classy; the Celtics are historically significant; the SHOWTIME Lakers are flashy). We want pride to resonate when the hype-guy frantically yells “Give a warm welcome to YOUR New England Patriots” or “YOUR Boston Red Sox” during pregame warm-ups.

Maybe that’s why we’re still embarrassed – just like Bob Kraft, we were duped. Tuesday was just another reminder.

Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Apple says its systems not to blame for…

By Edwin Chan and Christina FarrSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of…

Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

NFL

10 storylines to watch for the Giants this…

The Giants rebounded from an embarrassing 0-6 start last season, but not well enough to make the playoffs.

NFL

Michael Vick set to be weekly guest with…

Mike Francesa may need to backtrack from his harsh commentary of Michael Vick now that the Jets backup quarterback will be a weekly guest on his show.

NFL

Jets expect to make playoffs after sitting on…

The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team.

NFL

Antonio Allen returns to practice after concussion

Antonio Allen was cleared to practice again following his concussion two weeks ago.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…