Patriots

Curran: Hernandez's life and death was all about choices

Curran: Hernandez's life and death was all about choices

A headshake and a shrug.

That was my reaction upon hearing Aaron Hernandez hung himself with a bedsheet in his barricaded jail cell.

A man who could have done so much good with the blessings he was given -- athletic ability, intelligence, charm, a family that truly loved him -- instead actively chose a life that landed him in jail when he had every other option in the world available to him. And he killed a guy. And, despite last week's not-guilty verdict, was at the very least a party to the murder of two others.

MORE

I don't know that I ever heard him breathe a word of condolence. I saw him defiantly spit in the shrubs of his North Attleboro home on June 27, 2013 when he was led in cuffs and into a life of permanent confinement. I saw him cry for himself in court.

But he cried and mourned the loss of his freedom, not the choices that led to that. Choices that dated back to his time at the University of Florida. He wasn't just a convict but a con man. Two months after the South End shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado -- an event at which Hernandez was at the very least present -- he signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots and kicked back $50,000 to Robert Kraft and the Kraft's charitable foundation.

"Now I'm able to basically have a good chance to be set for life, and have a good life," Hernandez said at the time. "I have a daughter on the way, I have a family that I love. It's just knowing that they're going to be okay. Because I was happy playing for my two hundred fifty, four hundred thousand [dollar salary]. Knowing that my kids and my family will be able to have a good life, go to college, it's just an honor that he did that for me. He gave me this opportunity. The $50,000 to help his foundation, obviously, is basically like saying 'thank you' and its means a lot to me.

"He didn't need to give me the amount that he gave me, and knowing that he thinks I deserve that, he trusts me to make the right decisions, it means a lot. It means he trusts my character, and the person I am, which means a lot, cause my mother, that's how she wanted to raise me. They have to trust you to give you that money. I just feel a lot of respect and I owe it back to him. Not only is it $50,000, cause that's not really, that's just the money that really doesn't mean much, with the amount given, it's more, I have a lot more to give back, and all I can do is play my heart out for them, make the right decisions, and live life as a Patriot."

And within a year he took Odin Lloyd to an industrial park and killed him.

I feel sympathy for the mother, brother and daughter Hernandez leaves behind. I feel for his friends who had the character to love the sinner and hate the sins and not turn their backs on him. They will all live with the grief caused by the life and death of Aaron Hernandez.

Meanwhile, the true regret the friends and family of Lloyd, Furtado and de Abreu may feel today is that Aaron Hernandez ever lived.

Every day, people wracked by depression, illness, loss of family or purpose and inexorable sadness will consider an escape from the pain through suicide. Most will keep living anyway, hoping for a light they can't see. Living if not for themselves, then for the people around them. Others won't. A lot of them will feel as if they had no other choice. You mourn them and cry for the people who love them.

It's sad that Aaron Hernandez is dead. Even while serving life in prison, there was good he could have done for society if he chose to. He opted out. It's hard to feel specifically sad for him.

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

ex-pats-podcast17.png

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

gillette_stadium_fog_102217.jpg

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."