For Aaron Hernandez, his twisted, sordid saga of murder trials, courtrooms and general sociopathic thuggery ended with him hanging from a bed sheet at 3:05 a.m. Eastern Time early Wednesday morning in his single-occupancy jail cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, a lifetime away from his stint of stardom as a tight end for the New England Patriots from 2010 through 2012.
The Bristol, Connecticut, native, just five days removed from securing an acquittal on double murder charges stemming from a 2012 shooting outside a Boston club, committed suicide by hanging himself, using that bed sheet tied to a window in his cell, with numerous items reportedly jamming the doorway so he would have time to carry out his final act on Earth.
Hernandez, who, despite the court victory last week was still serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd in the summer of 2013, leaves behind a fiancée, a four-year-old daughter, a wasted professional football career, a sea of scorched earth and a mountain of questions that may never all be answered.
Let's pose a few of them here, though...
So what happened that led to Hernandez's death occurring Wednesday night?
Notice I didn't say "Hernandez's killing himself"? That's because there is some doubt that he actually did kill himself. Specifically, his former agent, Brian Murphy, and his attorney, Jose Baez, contend there is no way that Hernandez would kill himself. It's prison, so the possibility of lethal shenanigans is certainly in play. This much we do know — Hernandez had plenty of people who wanted to see him dead. That was confirmed by Alexander Bradley's testimony in the double murder trial a few weeks ago. (Bradley is Hernandez's former friend who Hernandez allegedly shot in the face and left for dead back in February 2013.) So, if I'm posting possibilities on what happened with Hernandez on a big board, I would say:
1. Hernandez, despondent about overall life in prison, decided to kill himself: -150
2. Hernandez, fearful that someone connected to Bradley would get to him and kill him in prison, decided to kill himself: +110
3. Hernandez offed by one of many goons tied to someone who wanted him dead: +1,000
Yeah, I think there's about a 10 percent chance that there was foul play involved, but I can understand his lawyer protesting the suicide determination, in part because that probably affects any life insurance payouts to his heirs.
Oh, by the way...
What legal loose ends are left behind by Hernandez's suicide?
It's worth noting that a loophole in Massachusetts law has left the back of Hernandez's "murderer baseball card" devoid of any statistics. Amazingly, on paper, Hernandez has a clean slate. Yes, you heard me. How is that possible? Well, as we know, he was acquitted last week of the double murder from the night those dudes spilled a drink on him. As for Odin Lloyd, I'll let the ESPN.com news report explain:
According to ESPN's Roger Cossack, Hernandez's legal team can file a motion to vacate his conviction for the murder of Lloyd. Martin W. Healy, the chief legal counsel to the Massachusetts Bar Association, told The Boston Globe that the legal rule is called abatement ab initio. Healy said that upon a person's death, if he or she has not exhausted the legal appeals, the case reverts to its status at the beginning; it is as if the trial and conviction never happened.
This is important for Hernandez's heirs, particularly his young daughter (who is the only person in Hernandez's inner circle that I really feel sorry for), as the vacating of the murder charge in Lloyd's murder makes it far more difficult for Lloyd's relatives to get a civil judgment against Hernandez's estate.
So, in the end, the only person Hernandez killed, according to the legal system, was himself. Irony, thy name is Aaron.
How remarkable was the double life Hernandez was leading?
I remember when former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd was pinched a few years back for basically running a gigantic underground drug ring, like with a supply chain and a network and the whole nine yards, WHILE HE WAS PLAYING IN THE NFL. Think about the energy and compartmentalization that takes. Most of us don't have the acumen and energy to balance our checkbooks, and Sam Hurd had two of the most demanding jobs on earth — NFL player and CEO of an enterprise, albeit a felonious one.
Well, similarly, Hernandez was leading a double life that had a remarkable degree of difficulty to pull off, from an acting standpoint if nothing else. Think about the timeline for Hernandez from the summer of 2012 through his arrest in June 2013. The double murder that he likely at least witnessed (if not executed) happened on July 16, 2012. Five weeks LATER, he signed a $40 million contract extension and conducted this press session:
Again, in that video, Hernandez is five weeks removed from possibly (probably?) killing two people. Then, he goes through a full football season in 2012, including this TD versus the Texans:
Just a few weeks after the season ended, in February 2013, Hernandez likely shoots one of his "friends" (Alexander Bradley) in the face and leaves him for dead, only to have the guy survive while losing an eye. Then, in June, Lloyd was killed by Hernandez.
There are sociopaths, there are SOCIOPATHS and then there is Aaron Hernandez.
How big a lock is this story for a "30 for 30" someday, and what will the angle be?
It's a "Golden State over Portland"-level lock that there will be a Hernandez documentary on ESPN some day. To me, the angle is in the dichotomy of the two Patriot tight ends selected in the 2010 draft. In the second round, they take Rob Gronkowski, and in the fourth round, they take Hernandez. The two form a revolutionary, dynamic duo at the position, literally changing the way teams assess the importance of tight ends in their offense. Then everything unravels with Hernandez as outlined above, while Gronk goes on to become an icon for bros and meatheads everywhere! It's an unbelievable development, the way the careers and lives of these two guys diverged in the woods. By the time Hernandez is in jail, I think they are literally the end points on the scale of "who you would trade places with" if you're an American male. Practically everyone would love to be Gronk, and literally nobody would want to be Hernandez.
To illustrate, two days before Hernandez was getting acquitted on two of the three murders he was believed to have committed, Gronk was ringside at WWE Smackdown....
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And on the day Hernandez killed himself, Gronk was walking around the White House unsupervised, interrupting Sean Spicer's press conference...
For some reason, even though we've seen the last of Hernandez, I feel like this won't be the last post we do about this saga.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.