Aaron Hernandez: A Cautionary Tale on Problem Prospects


Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (81) celebrates against the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Texans 41-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

In the past few days, Aaron Hernandez has been making headlines all around the country, for all the wrong reasons. Things started with Hernandez being questioned about a homicide that happened a few miles from his home, which eventually spiraled into the crisis that we see before us now. Instead of focusing on the details of the developing story, I want to focus on the cautionary tale that Aaron Hernandez is becoming for all problem prospects.

When Aaron Hernandez was a part of the 2010 NFL Draft process, several issues came up. He had been linked to gang activity. While Hernandez was quite clearly one of the most talented offensive prospects in the entire draft, someone who could play any weapon on offence, these links severely hurt his stock, along with a few other things like his size and even marijuana use, and dropped him into the 4th Round, and 113th overall. He was picked up by the Patriots, the perfect team for a troubled talent like himself, after all the Patriots had picked up a number of troubled players and made use of them, most notably Randy Moss. His first few years were fantastic, creating the best 1-2 TE tandem in all of football with Rob Gronkowski.

Then things went south. Gang activity, no matter how little you may be affiliated, is something you cannot play with. Hernandez should have known the major risks involved with being in or around a gang. Not only would his football career be in jeopardy, but his life as well. Something like this doesn’t just affect your football career, it can affect your entire life. Hernandez just should have been smarter, surround himself with people who can help him.

Personally, I’ve never been one to believe too much into problem prospects. You always hear about players being involved with drugs, using marijuana, alcohol problems, I’ve never bought into players being troubled because they do something that the majority of teenagers will do in their lives. My tune has now completely changed, gangs are an entirely different animal. This is something so much more than juvenile actions by growing teenagers and young adults. In Hernandez’s case, this is something he involved himself in willingly, and continued to involve himself in after he became an NFL player. Something that he should have realized, that he needed to get out of. He never needed that, he was an NFL star, he had it made. Money, fame, talent, he couldn’t have asked for more in life.

Right now, NFL prospects are under a huge microscope as it already, with social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter providing even more pressure. Now, I can only imagine it getting even more intense. Players with any sort of involvement with gangs, drug dealing can kiss their opportunities at being an NFL player goodbye. NFL teams will be digging even harder to make sure all their targets are as clean as possible. I think this also shows that even though the Patriots are among one of the best organizations in sports, they are in no way perfect. Once thought to be flawless, the Patriot’s Way has seemingly failed in this situation. The NFL is a privilege, for the best players in the world, not a right. Hernandez is about to learn this the hard way, and for any other prospects that are following in his footsteps, should be quick to change their ways, or else.

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