Covering the Super Bowl can’t be easy. Media from literally all over the world converge on one place in search of untold stories or new takes about the same two football teams — two clubs who really aren’t interested in talking, either.
That search for fresh content sometimes can lead down some questionable roads, which is how we get to this Philly.com headline: “Maybe it’s no coincidence that Aaron Hernandez tragedy happened to Patriots.”
That headline is found atop the latest column from Bob Brookover. The Philadelphia Inquirer columnist first reminded readers of the Patriots’ cheating scandals, then wondered whether the Patriots should have been more diligent in vetting Hernandez, who was convicted of one murder and accused of multiple others before committing suicide while serving a life sentence in prison.
After reciting most of Hernandez’s Wikipedia page, Brookover got to his point:
“The Patriots or Urban Meyer, who was the coach at the University of Florida when Hernandez played there, should have done more when they saw the signs of trouble. What Hernandez did was horrible, but you get the feeling the only reason Meyer and the Patriots cared about him in the first place was because he could play football.”
Know what? That paragraph, by itself, makes sense. Hernandez, as pointed out by Brookover, raised plenty of red flags about his character and his past. And those red flags were at worst ignored and at best put on the backburner.
But a team would have taken a chance on Hernandez at some point. And to draw a parallel between the Patriots drafting Hernandez and their alleged roles in Spygate and Deflatgate seems … like a stretch. It’s probably worth mentioning, too, that the Patriots seemed to believe Hernandez had turned his life around. He had a child and seemed to be behaving off the field, and the club rewarded that growth with a contract extension.
In hindsight, of course, that line of thinking seems regrettable.
“Once he no longer could help them, it became a sin to even speak the name Aaron Hernandez,” Brookover writes in the final paragraph. “Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the NFL team that has had the most success in this century also had to deal with the league’s greatest tragedy.”
Brookover probably will take the brunt of the backlash from New England for this column, but it’s also worth noting he almost certainly didn’t come up with the headline. That’s the job of his editors at the paper.
It doesn’t take a lot to strike a nerve with Patriots fans, though, and they’re probably gathering pitchforks as we speak, ready to make this an even bigger story than it actually is. Such is life during an otherwise slow Super Bowl week.
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