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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • CHRISTOPHERSON COLUMN: Hernandez may be a terrible guy, but I like football

  • Hernandez was on my fantasy football roster last year. I knew nothing about him as a person; all I wanted were receptions, yardage and touchdowns from the athletic tight end to add to my weekly fantasy team's point tally.
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  • A week or so ago, someone posted a story on Facebook that included the supposed number of National Football League players who have been arrested over the past year, or since the NFL Draft in April, or over some other time period. The story had alarmed the Facebook poster so much that he asked all his Facebook friends why anyone would watch a single NFL game, seemingly because its teams' rosters are full of so many bad guys.
    He posted what he did, obviously, because the Aaron Hernandez saga is still providing a daily drama for anyone who's in the market for daily drama. Hernandez was a super-talented tight end for the New England Patriots, until they cut him last week once he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Since the arrest, a man has filed a civil lawsuit against Hernandez, saying he shot him in the face in a vehicle last year, resulting in the plaintiff losing an eye. In addition, since he was arrested, now Hernandez is being linked to a double homicide last year, via a drive-by shooting.
    So, because of Hernandez, and, supposedly, because of dozens of other NFL players who have been arrested for alcohol-related incidents, or assault incidents, or marijuana incidents, we're supposed to never watch another down of NFL football? Oh, come on.
    Hernandez was on my fantasy football roster last year. I knew nothing about him as a person; all I wanted were receptions, yardage and touchdowns from the athletic tight end to add to my weekly fantasy team's point tally. I don't feel soiled or taken advantage of because I liked Hernandez's physical talents as a player enough to add him to my roster.
    What I am irked about, though, is all the references to Hernandez and those like him – i.e. professional athletes who break the law – supposedly being guilty of barely more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No, the references aren't that dismissive or forgiving, but more than one columnist and more than one TV talker since Hernandez was arrested has said "trouble just seems to find" him.
    While those who know him say that Hernandez really struggled with his father's death in 2006, this is not a guy who trouble has just happened to find over the years. When your high school football coach says he was concerned way back then about the bad posse of hangers-on who clung to you...when your college football career at the University of Florida includes a suspension and, apparently, several positive marijuana tests...when you have first round talent but are drafted in the fourth round because NFL teams' brass don't dare draft you...when just about every non-game-related story written about you as a college and pro player is set at a strip club or night club and involves booze and pot and firearms and various "incidents," trouble is not finding you. You are finding trouble. Hernandez may be the extreme example, but there are a lot of professional athletes who go out of their way to put themselves into potentially troubling situations. The word "potentially" evaporates in an instant more often than not when there's a disagreement and someone reaches into his pants or vehicle to show his gun.
    Page 2 of 2 - I'll concede the notion that Hernandez was troubled because of his dad's death. But if I concede that, others, even those chanting "Innocent!" outside the courthouse in which Hernandez was charged, must conclude that he is epically naïve, or just not that smart. Or did he simply think he was that untouchable? The fact his home's video surveillance/security system captured him and his buddies with guns in the house is all the evidence one needs to back up an argument that Hernandez doesn't think like a normal, rational, logical person. And when he's driving around with his buddies, all armed, and the nervous, soon-to-be-dead victim is texting his sister to make sure she knows whom he's with, Hernandez has to know that there is a very good chance he's going to go to prison for the rest of his life as punishment for the actions he's about to take. And yet the trio, allegedly, killed the guy anyway.
    I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that I am a better person than Aaron Hernandez. But I'm still going to watch the NFL on TV, and I'm still going to field a fantasy team come fall. And, yes, I'm glad I'm not in a keeper league and, therefore, might potentially be stuck with Hernandez, who in all likelihood will never play another down of football again, on my roster this fall.
    That doesn't make me a bad person, it just makes me eerily similar to the vast majority of the populace, a gigantic demographic of people who don't murder people, but yet is not afraid to acknowledge that our priorities might be a bit out of whack.

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