Sunday, June 23, 2013

Some Brief and Obvious Points about the Aaron Hernandez Situation

The Daily Visit
Unless you are living under a rock, you've probably heard: the Patriots TE2 is a suspect (the suspect?) in a murder. And more or less the focus of round-the-clock coverage despite not being, well, arrested. Leading me to think...

1) Will the Patiots really regret drafting this guy? Well, um, sure; it's never a good thing when talent auto-aborts their career in ways that are truly horrific. And even if he someone skates on the charges here, Czar Goodell will put him in the penalty box for a good long while.

But they've also gotten several years of elite level production out of him, and aren't on the hook if he winds up going to jail. They didn't pay free agent wages for him, and the character issues meant his starting salary was cheap. This isn't a case where they are going to be on the hook to keep paying him, or that a lot of people are going to stop going to Patriots games or buying jerseys because one of their guys turns infamous. (Actually, more jerseys will sell, since turnover means a new name to buy.) No one is going to stop being a Patriot Fan over this, and if anyone cites it in a couple of years, it will only be as an anniversary. This is modern times and speed and the #1 through #10 sports in the U.S.; nothing stops it. Or even slows it down.

2) And as good as Hernandez can be (note: it's only can, he's hurt way too frequently and lost a lot of explosiveness last year, and NFL history is writ large with guys who were good young, got hurt, then never were all that good again), it's not like he's the difference between them making the playoffs and staying home. New England plays in the AFC East, the easiest division in the NFL, and wins the division every year. They aren't all that different with or without him.

3) There is, of course, only one opinion to have about Hernandez right now; that he's a murderer that destroyed evidence, and if he gets away with it on the lesser charge, it's an utter travesty.

But there are two things about this to keep in mind. First, infamous murderers don't really get away with anything, at least not for long. The inevitable civil suit doesn't have the same burden of proof as a criminal case; a majority decides, rather than a universal matter. This more or less bankrupted O.J. Simpson, not that being bankrupt and free is a bad choice on going to prison. Spending the rest of your life being treated as a pariah, not to mention being at liberty, also means that every police department on the planet has you on high attention forever. Rest assured that if Hernandez doesn't go down for this for good, he'll go down for something else later.

Second, as utterly cut and dried as everything appears to be right now... well, um, either you believe in trial by jury and the rule of law, or you don't. Personally, I do. It's not perfect and it's corrupted by money, but it's the best system we've got, and as this is the best country in the world, that more or less makes this the best system in the world.

What we've heard so far is incredibly damning, but it's not a conviction or a confession. Telling your opinion on that, or going off at length about Hernandez's past or how the Patriots should have known he was a terrible human being... is basically saying that you are just OK with making a decision based on one side of an argument, that you're ready to rush to judgment, and that there's something clear about people who make terrible choices.

There isn't. Or else murder would be a heck of a lot less common. Along with assault, domestic abuse, and every other form of big crime. You don't have to be stupid, or non-observant, or wowed by fame to be a victim of a crime. You just have to be a victim.

4) So, since it sounds like I'm arguing for the player, right? Not really. I'm just, well, imaginative. So how could Hernandez be innocent? The cops could have falsified the evidence. Someone other than Hernandez could have destroyed the security system, called in the cleaners and wrecked his cell phone, without his say so, because it incriminated the real murderer. (Heck of a set-up, don't you think?) Someone near and dear to Hernandez may have done the deed, and he's taking the hit for them. Maybe after an assault. Starting to see how, well, you could even find yourself in a spiraling nightmare where you aren't, well, guilty of murder and deserving of pitchfork and torches?

Finally, one last thing. If this really is so cut and dried and obvious, why is Hernandez still at liberty as I write this, and the cops have been to his place for five straight days? Maybe because the case isn't so airtight?

If I had to bet on a resolution to this situation. Hernandez goes down.

But I don't.

No one does.

So let's just let the system we all pay for work, OK?

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