On the day most, not all, of his former teammates will be honored at the White House for this year’s Super Bowl win, Aaron Hernandez killed himself in prison. The former Patriots receiver only days ago was acquitted of a double murder, but was put back behind bars because of his earlier murder conviction. He was pronounced dead in a Massachusetts hospital and was 27.
And boy don’t the problems of tight end Marcellus Bennett, defensive tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, defensive end Chris Long, running back LeGarrette Blount, and defensive back Devin McCourty seem small today. That handful of Patriots won’t board the charter to Washington, DC for the traditional Presidential meet and greet. While Tom Brady and team owner Robert Kraft are best of friends with Donald Trump, this group will take a Colin Kaepernick knee and protest the man who was elected and lives in the People’s House in the nation’s capital.
Hernandez had the same gifts as they did that enabled them to suit up in the NFL and play on the field with a storied franchise. He was half of the Gronkowski-Hernandez tight end and saw action in a Super Bowl the Pats lost to the Giants. He was awarded what was then the biggest signing bonus ever for a tight end.
His career spiraled into bar fights and shootings, then a conviction and arrest for the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2013.
Nobody expects “there but for the grace of God go I” thoughts from the boycotting players or anyone else. Hernandez bad choices were his own. But they’re not the same as the choice Americans made for President, guys. You may say it sucks to make Aaron Hernandez death political, but maybe big gifted Patriot athletes playing the small ball of politics should feel the same. Maybe they should take stock in all the great things possible only in their country and on their team.