Many people wonder how Aaron Hernandez made it through college, the draft, and a few years in the NFL without anyone, specifically the Patriots organization, without a few red flags. But was he really sailing under the radar, without any suspicion?
In 2007, Hernandez had just turned 17 years old and was a college freshman at Florida. His father had passed away a year earlier from hernia surgery complications. Dennis Hernandez was a huge influence in the Bristol, CT community and his death affected Hernandez in an extreme way. He became disconnected and dangerous. Before heading to college, Aaron got caught up in partying and drug use which continued during his time at Florida. He was suspended for one game for failing a drug test, which doesn’t usually happen on the first failed test. But are failed marijuana tests for a teenage college student whose father just passed away a reason for him to drop to the 4th round of the 2010 draft? The Seahawks seemed to have a different player failing drug tests every week in 2012-2013.
At this point, the nature vs. nurture debate seems to come into play.
A closer look at Aaron Hernandez’s scouting report revealed “self-esteem is quite low; not well-adjusted emotionally, not happy, moods unpredictable, not stable, doesn’t take much to set him off, but not an especially jumpy guy.” That certainly seems like enough to cause him to drop to the 4th round. If that were a psychological assessment–Hernandez would probably have been placed in a mental facility. In fact, a mental/emotional disability could be exactly what eventually led to the deaths of 3 men. Clinical psychological assessment lists superficial charm, untruthfulness, absence of nervousness, lack of remorse, poor judgement, and unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations as ways to spot a sociopath. Let’s recall the incident in 2010 where Hernandez threatened veteran Wes Welker, the fact that Hernandez never hung out with teammates, and always brought questionable Connecticut friends around. That is the nature argument.
Now let’s consider the nurture counterargument. Hernandez comes from a big circle of criminals and violent crime. Growing up in Bristol, Hernandez’s father, along with his uncle reportedly got in many fights and were actively involved in crimes such as assault and larceny. After Aaron’s father died, the man his mother married was convicted of cutting her on the face and wrist. His criminal record included drugs and domestic violence involving a 4 and 10 year old child, and 2 other women. His cousin, Tanya Singleton, is facing trial for her involvement in the murder of Odin Lloyd. So was Hernandez exposure to a circle of criminals for his whole life what eventually caused him to snap?
To fans, Aaron Hernandez may have seemed like a confident, self-assured young talent. But to those behind the scenes, there were many red flags that were swept under the rug. If it was because Hernandez was good at hiding them, or if his football talent was too much to ignore, we will never know. The reason behind the murders of Odin Lloyd, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado at this point don’t seem to matter. But could these terrible acts of violence have possibly been prevented?