By: Russ Goldman
The Aaron Hernandez arrest has affected so many people who are dealing with the fact that a now former Patriots player is suspected of murder. This situation is sad and disgusting, and has bothered me a tremendous amount. There has been so much written, and talked about in the press about Hernandez, so I was really curious how they felt about him, and also the New England Patriots regarding this former player. Does the media feel duped by Aaron Hernandez or the New England Patriots?
So, I contacted members of the media with that statement above and asked them to comment on it. I did not clarify this statement, as I wanted each media person to interpret it their own way, so I could see what I can learn from them. Well, I can tell you that I feel I have learned a great deal by doing this article.
Before I go any further I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the family of Odin Lloyd who was murdered. At this point Hernandez has been arrested and charged with the murder of Lloyd, but he still has to stand trial. My hope is that this family gets the justice they deserve.
Now, I am going to start with the word “duped” as this is the word Patriots owner Robert Kraft used to describe how he feels about Hernandez when he talked to the media. I got interesting responses about that word that is a part of my overall statement.
First, Tony Masarotti from the Felger And Mazz Show on 98.5 The Sports Hub shared his thoughts on that word. He was unsure of what I meant by that, but he shares his take and interpretation of my statement.
“Not exactly sure what you mean by “duped” – but I don’t feel misled by either Hernandez or the Patriots. There was certainly no way to predict that Hernandez was allegedly going to murder someone – at least based on what we knew.
I have long believed, however, that the idea of the Patriots running a “cleaner” operation than other teams is nonsense. Pro football is a ruthless industry that requires some level of ethical and moral sacrifice in order to field a team. The Patriots have to make their choices just like everyone else.”
Second, I heard from Shalise Manza Young, who is the New England Patriots beat writer for the Boston Globe. She had seriously powerful comments that she shared which you will read throughout this article. I will just stick right now with her thoughts on the word “duped”.
“Speaking for myself, I don’t feel like we were “duped” in the way that Robert Kraft does – the media don’t draft or sign players; we don’t have any influence on which players come or go with the Patriots, we didn’t spend hours looking into his background and trying to determine if he was worth taking a risk on.”
Third, I contacted Erik Frenz, who is the AFC East lead writer for the Bleacher Report, and also has a Patriots blog called “Going Deep” which you can read on Boston.com. Mr. Frenz has a different take on the statement and that word “duped”.
“The only reason the media should feel duped by Aaron Hernandez is because of what he said after he signed the contract. The media should not, however, feel duped by the Patriots. That they signed him to a long-term deal is plenty of indication that they had no idea what he would become.”
Lastly, I contacted Bruce Allen, who has a website called Boston Sports Media Watch. Mr. Allen covers the Boston sports media, so I wanted to get his thoughts on my statement which includes that word “duped”. He has a different take as well on all of this that isn’t just about Hernandez, but also about the Patriots.
“I’m sure some members of the media do feel like they were duped by Aaron Hernandez. Maybe you remember this exchange some of the media had with him in the locker room in 2011:
Did any of them think that playful guy would turn out this way? So I’m sure there is a feeling among some of them that he duped them and the guy he let them see was very different from the “real” Aaron Hernandez.”
I don’t think they feel duped by the Patriots. Rather, they feel a sense of vindication and elation that they have something easy to write and talk about, and can sit in moral judgment of the franchise and its ownership/management. There are some who are enjoying this. Sad, but true.
As you can see the word “duped” in regards to my statement, had different responses from the four people I contacted for this article. This Hernandez story as I have learned is not just about the player, but also about the Patriots for some people.
However, there is much more to come out of this statement than just that word. There is no question that this Hernandez situation has affected not just fans, but also members of the media. Mrs. Manza Young talks about how she bought the story about Hernandez from last year after he signed his contract extension, and she thinks she is not alone that fell for it. She shared these powerful comments that I would like to share.
“Now, what I do feel is that many of us bought the story last year, hook, line and sinker. I was there that night Robert Kraft and Hernandez discussed his contract extension, and I still believe that Hernandez was genuine when he felt like the Krafts and the team had changed his life with his new contract. He was vulnerable that night, almost afraid to show this softer side of himself.
It is when he said the “Patriot Way” forced him to change that we – I – bought in, and believed that the largely nebulous issues from his past we’d heard about were truly in his past. Hernandez would play with Berj Najarian’s boys and Josh McDaniels’ son after camp practices, and he looked like he was truly enjoying himself, just horsing around with little boys who adored him and whom he appeared to adore as well; I always took note of that, and it is something that sticks with me now. I don’t think that was fake; I just think it was part of the clearly complicated puzzle of this young man.”
What I got out of these comments that she truly believes that he was being genuine that night, and his actions that she witnessed after practice looked real to her. That is the part of writing this story that really gets me. Mrs. Manza Young is describing a person that actually led a double life, and she only witnessed one life.
On of the biggest points I got out of writing this article has to be you really don’t know these professional athletes that you watch. They are at their work, and they do their job, but do you know who they really are? Well, Mrs. Manza Young finished up her chilling comments by talking about that very subject.
“But all of this underscores something we as reporters can never forget: we don’t really know these guys. There are a couple of players over the years that I have gotten closer to than others – it’s human nature when you spend so much time around one another – and my gut instinct tells me that what I know of those few men is true, that they are good and decent, but I’m not with them all the time. As we’ve learned, not every player, or really, not every person, is truly who they purport themselves to be.”
Those comments from Mrs. Manza Young when I read them the first time really summed up how I feel about Hernandez, and that we truly did not know him at all. We only knew what he showed us, so that is why it was nice to receive comments from others that cover the team, and get their feelings on the situation.
If you feel conned or duped, I personally feel all that should go towards Hernandez, because we never knew who he was, and that includes the people that cover him in the press. I feel duped by Aaron Hernandez!