Three Crucial Facts About The Aaron Hernandez Situation ESPN Is Conveniently Ignoring

11 07 2013

espn sucks

If you are a sports fan, you likely watch a lot of ESPN. Unless you spent the last three weeks at your time share on the dark side of the moon, you are nauseatingly aware of the situation embroiling former New England Patriot and current murder suspect Aaron Hernandez. But in the avalanche of the coverage the World Wide Bottom Feeder, there’s some really important stuff the blow-dries in Bristol would prefer you didn’t know. Of course, that is exactly why we here at Dubsism are pointing them out.

1) The only person at fault for what is happening to Aaron Hernandez is Aaron Hernandez

To understand this, you must realize that ESPN is in the business of idealizing athletes, which means nothing can ever be an athlete’s fault.  Since ESPN became a cash cow by filling SportsCenter with highlights, the focus of those highlights have to stay as squeaky-clean as possible. Of course, anybody with better than 20/6,000,000 vision and a reasonably functional cerebral cortex knows that’s a pantload of the first order.  That’s also happens to be the exact reason why there are millions of sports fans who lap up the swill ESPN puts out. That’s also why the omni-directional sludge pump known as ESPN has been floating the idea that somehow the fact Aaron Hernandez is footballs-deep in a murder investigation is the fault of everybody but Hernandez.

First, this was somehow Bill Belichick’s fault for drafting a guy the Patriots knew had a rail-car full of baggage coming out of the University of Florida. The fact that Hernandez was thug-a-licious all the way back clearly isn’t the fault of Emperor Palp-a-chick. But, right after they tossed that story out there, ESPN realized they’ve been sucking up to Belichick and the Patriots for the better part of the last decade.  Then they figured out that convincing America that Bill Belichick was right up there with the guy driving the white Bronco was bad for business. It was at that moment they realized they need to find another scapegoat.  Now, that isn’t to say that the Patriots (and specifically owner Robert Kraft) aren’t completely full of shit in the way they’ve handled this, but I will get back to that.

Emperor Palp-a-chick: Responsible for blowing the shit out of Alderaan, but Aaron Hernandez is not his fault.

Emperor Palp-a-chick: Responsible for blowing the shit out of Alderaan, but Aaron Hernandez is not his fault.

 

The next stop on the scapegoat train was former Florida coach Urban Meyer. Sure, the Gator coaching staff knew he had a track record. Sure, they knew about plenty of incidents while he was at Florida. So what? Let’s cut through he crap here.  Football coaches aren’t in the business of being parole officers, social workers, or nannies. They are in the business of winning football games. There’s a precise term to define football coaches who don’t win games. It’s called “fired.”

The same applies to Belichick. Football is a “what have you done for me lately” world, which means that coaches will recruit, sign, and play Lucifer himself if he can bring wins. You don’t want to admit that, but it’s true. In other words, both Belichick and Meyer knew what they had on their hands – a guy who could help them win football games. Everything wasn’t there problem, because there is just one rule in big-time college football and the NFL. In the immortal rules of Al Davis, “Just Win, Baby.”

There’s a reason for that. The very same fan who is right now contemplating his comment to me about that “athletes are role models” bullshit is the same guy who calls sports radio shows bitching about his team’s coach. The math works like this. Football coaches are under pressure to win, and that pressure comes from fans who are every bit as tolerant of bad behavior as long as they think the bad guy is good with a football.  The minute Cam Newton threw for 4,000 yards in the NFL, everybody forgot about his sordid past. O.J. Simpson had a track record of bad behavior all the way back to his community college days in San Francisco.  So, before anybody starts shifting the blame for Aaron Hernandez away from Aaron Hernandez, they may want to take a look in the mirror.  It’s only a logical extension once you say Hernandez is the result of the action of another individual to then say the actions of those other individuals are the result of the pressure to when exerted by the fans.

Not to mention, if ESPN is reticent to blame the athletes they glorify, there sure as shit aren’t going to blame the viewers they need to stay in business.

2) Aaron Hernandez is not the only bad guy in the sporting world right now

aaron hernandez wide receiver

I could run the list of bad guys in sports today from here to the end of the interwebz, but because murder is sensational, and because Hernandez happens to have been associated with one of the flagship franchises in the NFL, this will undoubtedly be one the stories which will consume the sports world for the foreseeable future. But there are all sorts of other stories out there that simply don’t get the coverage. We’ve already forgotten about the Jovan Belcher tragedy in Kansas City, and right now I would bet that 75% of you can’t tell me who Ausar Walcott is.   In fact, did you know that 27 NFL players have been arrested since the Super Bowl?

The example which ties this point perfectly with the first one is Ray Lewis. No only were there a ton of football fans who have forgotten Lewis’ involvement in a double-homicide, many of them completely ignored it because Ray delivered on the field.  That’s why ESPN hired Lewis, because they know those same fans will tune in football fans together .

To be fair, this isn’t happening only in the NFL.  Police blotters are full of college athletes, NBA players, and NHL players. Even today, the news came out the a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants not named Cain or Lincecum was arrested for allegedly being a drunken pervert.  But since he’s not a marquee name. and since he doesn’t pitch for the Yankees or the Red Yankees Red Sox, you haven’t seen his name anywhere other than a slight blurb on ESPN’s crawl.

The point here is we love to be selective with our moral outrage. You can use all the steroids you want, unless you play baseball, in which case you are the moral equivalent of a Nazi cannibal.  Being a cheat,  a liar, and a thief  is perfectly acceptable as you are a politician with the correct affiliation, and you can literally get away with murder if you are a star athlete with a dubious story you can sell to an even more dubious jury.  If you doubt that,  don’t forget that all it takes to screw the entire judicial system is one misguided Patriots’ who simply will not vote to convict regardless of the evidence presented.

3) The fertilizer value of Robert Kraft’s “We Were Duped” story could end world hunger as we know it

Col. Nathan Jessup knows what Robert Kraft can't handle.

Col. Nathan Jessup knows what Robert Kraft can’t handle.

Yeah, I can see it now…another round of attacks coming from the “Tommy Boy and Sully” Patriots fan crowd because I have dared to besmirch the name of Saint Bob. Bring it on. If you can’t handle the truth about Saint Bob, stop reading right now, tune in Boston sports radio and wait for the latest “let’s all blow Bob-fest,” which I think they are currently running about every two hours or so.

I first pointed this out the other day about the bovine scatology kn own as the “Patriot Way.”

It’s really hard to ignore the fact that if the “Patriot Way” wasn’t just a bunch of lip service, guys like Aaron Hernandez would have never worn the Patriot uniform in the first place.  I love the fact that I-285 likens the “Patriot Way” to an “Al Davis mantra,” because it really means “Just Win, Baby.”  The fact this all comes down to sloganeering is yet another example of how this is really all about image.

Consider that Kraft whole approach to marketing the image of his team died right about the same time Odin Lloyd did. That’s why Kraft’s most recent comments are beyond laughable.

Two days after returning from a vacation in Europe and Israel, Patriots owner Robert Kraft finally broke his silence Monday about Aaron Hernandez’s arrest on a murder charge and subsequent release from the team.

“No one in our organization was aware of any of these kind of connections. If it’s true, I’m just shocked,” Kraft said in his office at Gillette Stadium. “Our whole organization has been duped.”

Kraft, who has owned the Patriots since 1994, said he was “limited” in what he could discuss because of “an ongoing criminal investigation, as well as other potential civil proceedings,” yet spoke to reporters despite being advised not to by his attorneys. It is unclear if the family of Odin Lloyd, the victim in Hernandez’s murder case, will attempt to sue the Patriots.

But Kraft said it “is important that our fan base hear directly from our organization.” Kraft said the team knew Hernandez was “immature,” but didn’t think his off-field activities ever would lead to a murder charge.

So, let’s break that down. Kraft is smart for not wanting to say anything that could fuel a civil case against the Patriots, but the fact he is concerned about that means he knows there is a potential problem here. I’m not a lawyer, and I’m certainly not going to get into what it takes to get sued in this country, but I will say this. You know damn good and well Saint Bob got the word of several lawyers before he said a public word on this matter. If you doubt that, consider the following.

In fact, the Patriots were willing to draft Hernandez because they believed he had owned up to his past. Kraft disclosed a letter Monday that Hernandez sent to the Patriots on April 16, 2010, six days before the NFL draft.

In the letter, addressed to Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio and written with help from Hernandez’s agents at Athletes First, Hernandez admitted to recreational drug use while at the University of Florida and said he would “willfully” submit to biweekly drug testing during his rookie season if the Patriots were willing to draft him. Hernandez also offered to make a monetary atonement stemming from his $200,000 rookie signing bonus for any failed drug test.

“In addition, I will tie any guaranteed portion of my 2010 compensation to these drug tests and reimburse the team a pro-rata amount for any failed drug test,” Hernandez wrote.

Right there, Kraft’s “Duped” story starts taking on water. I understand this letter only focuses on Hernandez’ alleged history of drug use, but think about it for a minute. If you are the Patriots, and you are considering drafting this player who has a trail of stuff behind him a mile long, and he’s already tacitly admitting there’s credence to the drug concerns, wouldn’t you do a bit of homework on him before you drafted and gave him multiple millions of dollars? Of course you would.

So, when Kraft uses the term “duped,” he is saying one of two things. Either the Patriots simply took Hernandez at his word and ignored everything else, or they simply didn’t do the homework on this guy.  If they chose to turn a blind eye to everything other than the drug concerns, then there is no where they can claim they were “duped.” If they didn’t bother to do the due diligence, the can’t claim they were “duped.” Ane they did take the effort to check out Hernandez’ background, they surely didn’t do a very good job of it.  In any event, Kraft and the Patriots were not “duped.” They either knew what they were getting and didn’t care, or they didn’t bother to find out.

A Patriots spokesman said he could not say whether the team took Hernandez up on his offer. Most NFL players are drug tested twice per year — once between August and April, and again between April and August — but the Globe reported in 2010 that Hernandez would face additional testing from the league because of marijuana issues he had at Florida.

Several media outlets, including the Globe, have reported that Hernandez failed multiple drug tests during his three seasons at Florida. But before the 2010 draft, Hernandez told teams he had failed just one, and a Florida spokesman told the Globe Monday that “we do not dispute his claims in this regard.”

Kraft said the Patriots felt comfortable drafting Hernandez in the fourth round after receiving this letter, and did not believe he had any other major off-field issues.

“Here’s a guy writing a letter, taking responsibility,” Kraft said. “The only thing I ever heard on Aaron Hernandez was he was very young, immature, and potentially had problems presented in this letter. Never saw signs of anything else.”

Again, there is no way the Patriots can claim they didn’t know about the marijuana issues. But this isn’t about some sort of “marijuana, the killer weed that makes people kill people;” this is about why would you take action on a tacit admission of one set of concerns and ignore the others? All of the stuff coming out of Florida subsequent to Hernandez’ arrest in Massachsetts was all pretty easy stuff for an investigation to find. Police reports can be obtained, court proceedings are public record, and good, old-fashioned knocking on doors and asking a few questions would have dug up a lot of this stuff.  It begs the question why that never happened?

Kraft said all he knew about Hernandez is what happened inside the practice facility at Gillette Stadium, and that for three years Hernandez was a model football player. He noted that coach Bill Belichick said that Hernandez had the best training camp of any Patriots player last August, after Hernandez had signed his contract extension.

The fact that Kraft is sticking to “I didn’t know anything” after his statements about playing it all close to the vest because of current and possible legal entanglements are a complete contradiction. If he really doesn’t know anything, then say that and move on. But to say, I don’t know anything, but I can’t comment,” raises red flags, and deservedly so.

“I only know what goes on inside this building. We don’t put private eyes on people,” Kraft said. “When he was in this building, I was never exposed to anything where he was not positive. He was always polite, respectful. Kraft didn’t say whether the team will be less willing in the future to take on players with character risks, but “you can be sure we’ll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things.”

Forget about “private eyes.” It wouldn’t have taken Jim Rockford to bird-dog this guy, especially in light of how quickly this stuff surfaced after Hernandez was arrested. But at least we now know which route the Patriots took; they weren’t “duped,” they didn’t do their homework despite the fact they had every reason to do so. They seemingly didn’t even do the same background check one would be subject to trying to get a job at Wal-Mart.

Kraft certainly wishes he had done more research on Hernandez’s off-field activities before giving him the extension last August, but he felt at the time that signing Hernandez to a long-term deal was the best move for the team. Hernandez’s rookie contract was supposed to run through the 2013 season, and the Patriots felt like they could get better value if they had signed him to a long-term deal before he reached free agency.

“If you let the best players go to free agency or get to the last year, you usually pay more,” Kraft said. “It was a business decision. We were paying for performance. He was undervalued his first two years, then we wanted to get him in range.”

Just what performance were they paying for? Take a look at Hernandez’ stats over the past three seasons: He’s only played in 29 of 38 possible games, which means he misses about one game in four. So his durability is questionable. On average, he’s worth about 56 catches a year for about 650 yard and right around 6 touchdowns. Is that really worth 5 years and $37.5 million?

That’s why I think there’s more to this. In a previous piece, I mentioned that “the Patriot Way” was all about image, and I really believe that Robert Kraft so wanted to be seen a s a guy who can rehabilitate wayward youth that he was using Hernandez as a show pony. That’s why the decision was made so quickly, and the efforts to sever the ties were so demonstrable. The Aaron Hernandez story meant more to Robert Kraft than simply having a player get into trouble.

What it all boils down to for Saint Bob is this. You can tell me you didn’t do your homework. You can tell me you saw something in Hernandez that wasn’t there. You can even tell me that you wanted to use the “rehabilitated Hernandez” story as a feather in your tri-cornered Patriot hat.

But don’t tell me you were “duped.”

 

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4 responses

11 07 2013
11 07 2013
Ryan Meehan

I guess my thing about this is, what defined “drug use” when he was in college? Was he into coke or other stuff? Because if he wasn’t then it’s pretty much hit or miss when you’re trying to pick a guy that doesn’t have cloudy weed pee out of the draft pool. Think of the percentage of people who smoke weed while they’re in college, and you have to figure that athletes have a certain level of “indestructability” complex built in to their method of thinking.

Now, this is no excuse. Hernandez looks like he got a majority of those tattoos before his sixteenth birthday, and they look like they were done very poorly to boot. What does that mean? Well, that means that obviously he’s around people who can get him anything he wants, and that’s where danger factors into everything.

The Patriots seem to think that just because they say something is the way it is, that’s the truth. I believe that they knew plenty about who he was, and the word “duped” is fucking incredulous. You don’t get “duped” when this much money is at stake. Manti T’eo probably thinks the Patriots should have done more research. Sure, now it seems easy to say as hindsight is always 20/20 but damn I can’t help but think that they made mistakes more than they were “tricked”.

Meehan

11 07 2013
Neil Roberts

Franchises (not just football) are impacted by their players on-field AND off-field actions…and if a player does something negative off the field, it usually works it’s way back towards the franchise and impacts them as well. That’s the main reason why these franchises do the back ground checks on the players they are look at drafting, and (as you noted in your piece) it is one of the reasons it seems dubious that the Patriots were on aware of the other red flags in Hernandez’s past.

12 07 2013
Chris Humpherys

Actually, we were all duped into thinking the Patriots, Kraft and Belichick were in any way different from any of the league’s employees.

Thank you, ESPN.

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