As we learn more and more about Aaron Hernandez, one thing pops to the forefront of my mind: how did all of this go unnoticed? I can understand covering up a few things, duping a few people. But, players talk. Maybe not to the media but to coaches, players, trainers, staff, etc. His use of Angel Dust would have come up. No, maybe we wouldn’t have known about the paranoia, carrying a gun everywhere, or his tendency towards murder but it is hard to believe that Urban Meyer or anyone else at Florida would have been in the dark about this player. I think that NFL teams need to scout players better. There is too much at stake and too much that can be learned to give players with a tendency towards trouble money and the spotlight.
Now, we all know that coaches will say whatever they can to promote their players, especially college coaches preparing their players for the NFL. And Meyer had Hernandez’s best interests at heart. Even the Rolling Stone article about Aaron Hernandez doesn’t refute Meyer’s hard work towards reforming Hernandez. But something seems a little fishy.
Bill Belichick and Meyer are pretty close. There are plenty of former gators on the Patriots roster, prompting me to believe that Meyer has some influence and talks up his players to Belichick. Hernandez is smart, but he’s not smart or manipulative enough to convince Meyer to lie to Belichick about his character or troubled time at Florida. So, either Meyer convinced Belichick that Hernandez was moving on and was worth the investment, or Meyer wanted so badly for Hernandez to get to New England, where the locker room could have straightened him out like no other. In either case, Belichick should be at least a little peeved at Meyer. And we should all be a little peeved at Belichick.
Granted, Bill does not scout these players. But he makes the decision on draft day. Belichick is always willing to roll the dice on a troubled player, thinking his locker room transformative, but someone this troubled does not belong in the NFL. We, as fans, as media, as anyone with a voice, need to start holding scouting departments and teams accountable. We want troubled players to get a second chance, but teams need to be 98 percent sure, at least, that this is what this player wants. Hernandez might have wanted to play football, but it was not his priority.
Someone did not do a good enough job scouting Hernandez. Any excuse as to why they would have been unaware of his drug use is ridiculous. So who is to blame? Belichick? The scouting department? Meyer? in the end, it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. Everyone involved with Aaron Hernandez will have a certain black mark they will have a hard time getting people to forget. In the future, though, I hope that NFL teams take this saga into consideration come draft day and have done their homework. The NFL is growing but if this is going to become the norm, I don’t see how the NFL will sustain its growth.