We are a couple of days away from Super Bowl XLIX, a game that will be the sixth Super Bowl the New England Patriots have participated in during the Bill Belichick Era.
The last time they were in this game, closing out the 2011 season, they were there on the strength of a unique two-tight-end set with the freak of nature Rob Gronkowski at one tight end spot and the ultra-athletic Aaron Hernandez at the other tight end spot.
Things have certainly changed since then. Three years later, Gronk is still here, a unanimous All Pro pick at the position and on a Hall of Fame trajectory. Hernandez, he's kind of tied up with other things. His murder trial (the first of multiple murders he will be standing trial for) in the Odin Lloyd homicide began yesterday.
Indeed, it's a long way from Super Bowl XLVI.
The trial began yesterday morning, delayed by a couple of days due to the winter storms in the Northeast, with both sides giving opening arguments and the prosecution calling its first couple of witnesses. Here is a CliffsNotes notebook on what transpired on Day One of this year's "Trial of the Century":
WHAT: Aaron Hernandez Trial WHERE: Fall River, MA CHARGES: Murder VICTIM: Odin Lloyd, 27-year-old semi-professional football player WHEN: June 2013
* Because of the ties to the NFL and the charges of murder, the easy comparison everyone makes with this trial is to the O.J. Simpson double murder trial two decades ago, even though there are almost no similarities other than brutal death. However, one similarity appears to be the defense strategy. Similar to the Simpson case back in 1995, it appears that Hernandez's defense team is going to hammer away at the "sloppy" investigation and the "singling out" of an NFL star. Good luck.
* The prosecution will have two problems in getting a conviction -- 1) it still doesn't have a murder weapon in hand, and 2) the suggested motive for Hernandez's allegedly murdering Lloyd is that Lloyd "knew too much" about an alleged 2012 double murder for which Hernandez is set to stand trial in the future, which is problematic because the judge ruled that the double murder cannot be mentioned in the courtroom in this case. So motive now becomes murky.
* We finally saw parts of the gigabytes worth of surveillance video attached to this case, including the striking visual of Hernandez walking around his house with a gun in his hand, although his attorney raised the possibility it could be an Xbox controller. Okay, you be the judge:
Yeah, pretty sure Hernandez didn't accidentally walk away from a game of Madden with the controller in his hand.
* My favorite dispelling of motive by Hernandez's attorney was this...
"Why would he kill his friend Odin...who was his source and supplier of marijuana blunts?" Fee asks
— Jenny Wilson (@jennydwilson) January 29, 2015
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Yes, because it's really hard to find someone to supply your "blunts" in 2015. By the way, one piece of evidence entered was a blunt found at the murder scene with both Hernandez's and Lloyd's DNA on it.
* One of the witnesses called was Matthew Kent, a high school student who was jogging through the industrial park in which Lloyd was murdered and found the victim's bullet-riddled body. One line of questioning had to do with the shoes Kent wore while running so as to provide a stark contrast with the Air Jordan footprints that presumably were left by Hernandez near Lloyd's body.
The trial resumes today in Fall River, Massachusetts.