Hall of Game: If it weren’t for those meddling kids!

If it weren’t for those meddling kids!

Hanna Barbara’s Scooby Doo put me onto detectives. From reading all the miraculous tales of Sherlock Holmes, to visiting key stomping grounds for inspector Morse in Oxford, to snickering at the cheesy jokes of Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote. Cabot Cove, a small fishing town in New England with a murder rate that would rival any wartime ravaged city.

Kids, crime and sports, … apparently not all is well all the time in New England. I’m normally very good at picking out the whodunits. But not Aaron Hernandez. I was looking forward to seeing him and Rob Gronkowski dominate for years to come. A tale of two tight ends, and that sort of prosaic future. Instead of the best of times it has become the worst of times.

Could anyone have seen this coming? (Apart from the likes of Matlock, Monk and Marlowe – too bad Belichick doesn’t start with an ‘M’)

In 2007 Hernandez got into a fight when he was at college. A drunken fight, in a bar, a bill dispute. So hands up my esteemed readers if you’ve never gotten so drunk, or so enraged, or so jealous in your late teens or early twenties that didn’t want to punch a guy (if you’re a guy) or pull a woman’s hair (if you’re a woman). (Just to be clear seeing girls dishing out uppercuts and guys pulling mullets – would love to see that too!) Still, I don’t want to make light of the incident. The victim suffered a ruptured eardrum and fighting an causing bodily harm is a crime, rightfully so. But the case got deferred, so in legalese the bar fight got categorized as ‘an incident’.  And legalese can be as murky as a Florida swamp full of gators.

So far, if I were a scout on a detective mission, I would categorize ‘the incident’ as a red herring. However the Hernandez picture gets more hazy with admissions of drug taking right before the 2010 draft. Still, a teenager, difficult background, drugs readily available, he coughs it up like a man and drops in the draft hierarchy. Now I’m really thinking red herring. I’m thinking about drafting the guy. And I’m thinking about the feel good moment at the end, when everything is resolved and the air cleared and the tale of two tight ends ends in Canton. Second chances, Cinderella stories, the American dream, … and all that.

And boy-oh-boy does he play well his first years!

At that point, if I’m a scout, I’m patting myself on the back, relaxing and only cursing at the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI. I’m feeling good about myself. After all, in sports it’s impossible to assemble a complete team without players with checkered pasts. Once again, who is completely, pristinely clean? (Girls will be boys and boys will be girls Manti Te’o? Who let the dogs out Michael Vick? Tom Brady not doing the Samba di Janeiro with Gisele?)

Somewhere out in detective land there’s a bullet with your name on it. Supposedly Aaron Hernandez had a shoe box with a little collection: Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu, Safiro Teixeira Furtado, Alexander S. Bradley, Odin Lloyd. There’s speculations, accusations, sensations. Still, a man is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

But on the grid iron that man gets the sack. (… Just in case.) And as a scout/detective I’m now under fire. Why didn’t I see this coming? I knew about the fight and the drugs … so why the hell did I decide the guy worthy of a second chance? Hernandez has a lot of tattoos, why didn’t I ask what they all stand for? Why didn’t I take pictures of them go to the police and ask if there’s gang tats among them? Why didn’t I go through his trash cans? Why didn’t I read his hand palms? Perform frenology? The golden power ball from the pre-crime machine from the movie ‘Minority Report’? Why not use the a hot tub time machine?

How far do you go? I once broke a kid’s arm in the playing ground. (Just for the record, we were both 11 and he had a couple of months on me.) I never did drugs, but I do recall a night with lots of beer, tequila, whisky and some other stuff. I have tattoos, I’m not in a gang. Am I going to kill someone? Well, it’s not in my diary, nor in my long term plans for life. I’m sure Hernandez didn’t lay down his baby child in the cradle, walk towards the fridge for a soda and saw a post-it on the fridge door remembering him to but a bullet in someone.

So what happened? Violence is in him? You can take a boy out of a gang but not the gang out of the boy? He was born evil, like some Stephen King Carrie-character, drenching the blue astroturf of Florida blood red?

Aaron Hernandez was  a family man, a successful athlete. Money wouldn’t be an issue. Fame was all but assured. Do I second guess myself as a scout/detective? No! I rest my case. Anyone can turn to being a murderer in no time. Sometimes the circumstances make it more likely. Still, there are rich murderers. There are murderers who led perfectly happy lives up to the fatal moment. There are murderers who are active in the community. Doctors kill, lawyers do to, architect – oh boy, are they killers, waiters, mechanics, cab drivers, police men, soldiers, …. So, yes, athletes can turn out to be murderers too.

And honestly, honestly, if I had to put my money one year ago on Herandez or Gronkowski being a murderer, well … . Seeing the Gronk dancing after the loss, with his injured arm. Dancing (sorta). Body slamming people. … Well, just saying. Only is always  20-20.

The Hernandez case puzzles me. Why? I don’t blame the scouts, Belichick, the Patriots’ organization. Why ask of them what no police force, no university research in the group can do: define the kill-gene. Why did Aaron do it?

It puzzles me. I need Fred to find me a clue. I need Velma to explain it. I need Daphne to console me (another revelation: I love redheads – perhaps that’ll prevent me from playing for a team with redhead cheerleaders – too risky)/ But most of all I need Shaggy and Scooby to stumble across the answer to the why. Unmask the culprit.

Meanwhile we won’t see Hernandez again. I doubt we’ll see Gronk healthy again. I regret not seeing a new exciting Patriots’ dynasty. I regret not seeing the tale of the two tight ends.

It could have been great team, … if it weren’t for those meddling kids!

– The Journeyman