If I could ask Aaron Hernandez one question, it would be this:
But I will never have that chance, and no one else will, either, going forward …
And I’m not sure he could answer that question. The “why?”
Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end with a $40-million contract, hanged himself in his prison cell early today, according to authorities, and he takes to his grave charges and suspicions — and one life-in-prison murder conviction — involving a variety of shootings going back to 2007, when he was 17.
And we are left to wonder about the whole of it, and what led him to be involved in perhaps the most lethal off-the-field behavior of any star athlete in American sports history.
Are some of us marked for trouble from our youth? Perhaps we overreact to perceived challenges or have a hair-trigger temper. Maybe those anti-social behaviors are hard-wired in some of us. That could lead to lots of trouble.
Are we unduly influenced by our peers? Can we be led into acting out violently by our association with others who also are prone to rash and extreme behavior?
Are parents, especially fathers, critical in the lives of many young men, and the loss of that adult presence at an impressionable age — as happened to Hernandez — elevate the risk that a surviving son might slide into criminal behavior?
Does any of the above suggest a sea of troubles that may come to the fore when a young man is out late, using mood-altering substances, and is armed? If Aaron Hernandez had never bought a gun and somehow managed to stay out of clubs/bars after dark …?
I am not sure why the latest bit of the Aaron Hernandez Saga was a sort of jolt to me, but it was. “He hanged himself?”
Yes, just last week he had been acquitted on charges of murdering two men in 2012. Yes, his lawyer suggested that he might be able to overturn the conviction on the 2013 murder charge.
Why, then, did Hernandez hang himself a few days later? When his legal situation, in theory, looked brighter than at any time since his 2015 conviction?
Why would he leave behind a wife and four-year-old daughter?
Low impulse control, bad friends, access to weapons, maybe even a head injury from playing football (his brain should be examined for damage) … any or all of that could be at work, right up till the moment he killed himself.
End of the day, it would appear “why” was not a priority for Aaron Hernandez. He did what he was going to do when certain situations reached a certain level, ending with a dark night in prison.
If he didn’t know why, we certainly never will, and it will haunt some of us.