Hernandez murders career
Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.
Upon arriving to the NFL for the 2010 season, Aaron Hernandez had a bright future. He was picked up by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of that year’s draft as an All-American tight end from the University of Florida.
According to ESPN, Hernandez racked up just shy of 2,000 receiving yards in three seasons, and he averaged a solid 11.2 yards per catch.
This was a rising star for the Patriots organization until this summer when he was arrested as a suspect in the June 17 murder of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old linebacker for the semi-professional football team, the Boston Bandits.
The press immediately jumped on the story, and turned to the Patriots for answers. This type of publicity is detrimental to any organization, especially to one in the business of such a violent game.
And so began the successful publicity, or anti-publicity campaign for that matter, for the New England Patriots to wash their hands clean of the situation.
A week after the murder, the Patriots dropped Hernandez, who had signed a 5-year $40 million contract 10 months prior, on the grounds of being connected to the murder in any way. They issued
a statement on June 26 announcing his release.
“A young man was murdered last week, and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation,” said the organization in a press release. “We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
This swift move proved to anyone tuning in that the New England Patriots do not take criminal activity lightly. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport
spoke with a “person with knowledge of Patriots’ decision-making,” and was able to report that the decision to drop Hernandez was made the week prior to the release by those in the highest reaches of the organization – presumably, owner, Robert Kraft and head coach, Bill Belichick.
This move did save face for the Patriots organization, but it will be taking a toll on the Patriots’ salary cap.
Hernandez’s contract called for a $12 million signing bonus and $16 million in guaranteed money.
Another good move by the organization was to reassure Rapoport that it is about far more than just money.
Finally to further remove Hernandez from the organization, the Patriots offered a free exchange for those fans who found themselves with a Hernandez jersey they could no longer wear.
In this excellent publicity move, fans who purchased a #81 Hernandez jersey through the Patriots ProShop in Foxborough or on the team website could exchange the jersey with one of comparable value.
“Consider this further evidence that the Patriots are doing everything in their power to distance themselves from Hernandez,” Around the League writer, Dan Hanzus said in NFL Network’s coverage of the jersey exchange.
The most recent update in the ongoing story: Hernandez, 23, was indicted on the charge of first-degree murder.
If convicted, the Bristol, Conn., native would serve a mandatory life sentence in prison without parole.
As for the Patriots, association has tapered since the beginning of this crisis management campaign by the organization, and now their only connection to the case is the word “former.”