Normally, I stick with writing basketball, but this issue of professional athletes getting into trouble with the law has been ever-present for a long time.
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, 23, has been arrested and will be charged with first-degree murder (the original charge was obstruction of justice) for the execution-style slaying of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. For the full story of Lloyd’s murder and Hernandez’s connection to it, click here.
In addition to the charges, Hernandez has been released from the Patriots, lost many of his endorsements and his name and likeness has been removed from almost every inch of his former school, University of Florida. He also has a seven-month-old son. This is quite a bit to give up just to “deal with” a friend solely because he “talked to the wrong people.”
Hernandez has not been the first football player, or even athlete, to have to go to court in connection with a crime.
There have been many cases in which athletes have been caught driving under the influence of alcohol, caught with drugs and even been charged with things like sexual assault and murder. Why can’t these young men maintain a clean record?
To add a little background information: A good percentage of the young men that enter sports, particularly football and basketball, come from rough backgrounds. They feel that their way out is through some form of sport. As a result, they work hard, get scholarships to a university and eventually make it to the pros.
Despite their environmental change, there are patterns and habits that were created within them that do not leave and still associate with the same people. This is okay if the people that they previously associated with them can understand and support their new life, but there are those old friends that are not on the straight path, for lack of a better term.
A few years ago, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was charged and went to jail for dog fighting. He was not the only one engaging in this activity, but was the only one out of his friends that was charged (I wonder why).
For some reason, many guys cannot shake the old attitude and thought pattern as before. They think that it is okay to engage in illegal activity and won’t have to deal with any consequences.
As humans, we are all going to mess up, but why is it that so many athletes have problems with the law?
To alleviate some of these problems, the NFL has decided to have the police research the tattoos of any prospects. This may help, but what happens to the ones that do not publicly display them on their body? What happens to the guys who have tattoos solely as a way of expressing themselves and are not affiliated with a gang?
I believe that there should be some kind of transitional program that college athletes should participate in to help them mentally get out of that rough neighborhood. I am not saying that this happens to every athlete that came from poverty, but there are those who need something like this. Maybe then we can have less players in court and more that stay on the court.
- Aaron Hernandez Merchandise Pulled From Store Shelves (houston.cbslocal.com)
- Aaron Hernandez will appear in court for Lloyd murder, may soon face double murder charges (al.com)
- NFL: Tattoo Experts Could be Hired Amid Aaron Hernandez Case (theepochtimes.com)
- Ray Lewis Addresses Aaron Hernandez’s Murder Case, Is Careful About What He Says (nesn.com)