1994 All Over Again

Aaron Hernandez probably won't be seeing a football field anytime soon. Photo Courtesy: Aaron Frutman
Aaron Hernandez probably won’t be seeing a football field anytime soon. Photo Courtesy: Aaron Frutman

By Will Martin

Recently we saw the NBA Finals run their course in favor of the Miami Heat (and congratulations to them).

For a moment there was a recollection of a police chase that was taking place at the same time an NBA Final was going on with the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.

Yes we all remember where we were when OJ Simpson took millions of viewers on a three hour freeway tour of the 405 Freeway from the OC all the way back to Brentwood.

One week ago we learned about a murder that happened within a mile from where the former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez resided in Attleboro, Mass. All of a sudden there was a sense of deja vu with the death of semi pro football player Odin Lloyd.

We would later learn about Lloyd’s sister being related to the girlfriend/fiancee of Aaron Hernandez. We would learn about Lloyd and Hernandez being together in a nightclub a few days prior to the death. We the public would then be informed about an incident in which Lloyd talked to some people who were not of Aaron Hernandez liking.

And then at 3:23 am on June 17th neighbors in Attleboro heard multiple gunshots ring out not far from where Aaron Hernandez lived and where Odin Lloyd was found dead. Murdered execution style.

That June 17th date? The anniversary date of the infamous White Bronco freeway chase! This struck me as eerily similar to what the overhead cameras showed us last week in Massachusetts when helicopters flew overhead and followed the travels of a White Bronco.

The horde of media that followed Hernandez into a gas station on June 21st told me that there was something very wrong with all of this. It would take us far away from the bubble of the NFL. It was time to wait and see what the authorities would uncover and divulge.

Maids called in to apply some house cleanup. A video surveillance set up destroyed. A rental car that was in Aaron’s name with supposed shell casings. A whole slew of video cameras lined up across the cul de sac of that quiet neighborhood in Massachusetts. Try to imagine the media craze if this were a Tom Brady or a big name Patriot. Imagine if it were Ocho Cinco or Randy Moss. Of course we can’t nor do we want to.

Football is a game that takes away from life in a gladiatorial manner. A winner and a loser. Life dictates choices to be made-we hope-under the guise of proper mentoring, common sense, integrity, without affecting the rights and freedoms or the life of another human being.

Perhaps it’s tough to fathom a 23-year old person with millions of dollars at his disposal. Maybe it’s tougher to imagine a person that young to not be able to differentiate between right and wrong. Surely you can make a case for the friends or hangers on that you choose to keep within one’s circle.

IF it’s true that Aaron Hernandez at one point was a gang banger, and IF it is determined under a court of law that Aaron had anger issues coupled with yes men to do his dirty work then maybe we should have seen this coming.

Remember all those cheering people along the freeway in 1994 yelling ‘Go OJ Go?’ A macabre scene indeed for what many believe to be a murderer despite his acquittal. I recall a few people who came forward to defend the honor of OJ or had his back-namely Al Cowlings.

Not to compare to the Simpson case but has anyone stepped forward to defend Aaron Hernandez the person? Save for a small group of people as a van drove away this morning chanting, ‘Innocent! Innocent! Innocent!’ The fact that there were no Patriot players around to speak or defend #81 told me, ‘This is going to be bad.’

When Muscle Milk pulled their endorsement on June 21st I thought, ‘They know something. Investigators have leaked a little bit of info.’

As dog sniffers and police in deep sea diving suits searched the immediate area and the news reports went from ‘An arrest warrant for obstruction of justice’ to ‘Police are still combing through evidence’ my guess was that a case was being built against the one time Gator and soon to be ex-Patriot.

Early this morning the arrest was made on Aaron Hernandez on the charge of murder in addition to multiple gun charges. The fact that the authorities didn’t let Hernandez put on a tee shirt and the Patriots releasing him less than two hours after his arraignment told me that Robert Kraft and the authorities knew a little more than we did.

Why was friend Odin Lloyd shot?

Let’s be clear that in 1994 there was a segment of society who wanted to try OJ Simpson by media. When acquitted there was anger and outrage along racial lines. In now way can the upcoming trial for Aaron Hernandez parallel what we saw with OJ Simpson and the defense team. That trial changed the way news stations went about reporting things in a round the clock loop. What looked to be a sure fire verdict became an acquittal based on a played race card. Another topic for another time.

Reports of an unsolved murder in Boston last summer which was still unsolved. Did Odin Lloyd know something we didn’t? What kind of topic can make a supposed friend so mad that you get murdered execution style near your home?

This has been a crazy two months for the people of Massachusetts from the Marathon to the dissolution of the Celtics to the Bruins losing a Stanley Cup. The saga of this ex-Patriot is too surreal to be true for fans of the Kraft team.

In a perfect world never should there be an instance of murder being the solution to a problem. In the months and years to come a picture shall be drawn through reports, friends, family, and evidence that might shed light on the life and a lifestyle for a young man who maybe just wasn’t prepared for the rigors of adulthood. The perceived responsibility of setting a good example based on the contract you were given on merit or potential.

Nightclubs, brawls, injuries, legal problems. Sound familiar this time of year before the start of training camp?

Separate from the conglomerate we call the NFL this case will be more about a life derailed by choices better yet unchosen. The funeral for Odin Lloyd will be on June 29th. Expect a big turnout for that man’s family.

For the moment there are no answers, only questions. Why Aaron? Why?

19 years removed for those two White trucks…