Serial killer Aaron Hernandez claimed another victim Wednesday morning.
The convicted murderer escaped conviction in the slayings of two immigrants on Friday. But he ultimately proved a hanging judge over his own existence in meting out rough justice to himself at the Souza Baranowski Correctional Center on Wednesday.
Using a bedsheet and a window, he put himself permanently to sleep as his fellow inmates enjoyed temporary rest. Despite last week’s red-letter day, which prompted defense attorney Jose Baez to suggest that he may appeal Hernandez’s conviction in the murder of Odin Lloyd as an encore, the tight end felt the comedown after the victory.
The former New England Patriot committed suicide on Patriots’ Day, the anniversary of the first battles of the American Revolution. Less coincidentally, he took his life on the day when his teammates celebrate their comeback Super Bowl victory at the White House. Aaron Hernandez could catch a pass. But never grasped the first lesson of football: get up after you get knocked down. The juxtaposition of his teammates celebrating a 25-point comeback at the White House on the day Hernandez put the exclamation point on his misspent life hanging in a dank prison cell is just too easy.
He was an All-American until he wasn’t. He won a national championship with Tim Tebow at Florida but the QB did not rub off on him. He caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the Super Bowl but he never caught the QB’s infectious, no-quit attitude.
Ultimately what wasn’t eclipsed what was. He stopped haunting NFL defensive coordinators as a nightmare matchup as a tight end that moonlighted beyond the numbers, in the slot, and occasionally in the backfield. He ceased playing ying to Rob Gronkowski’s yang. He did not win the two Super Bowl rings that he did in the counterfactual version of his life. He became a human cautionary tale.
What went wrong?
Dennis Hernandez died from routine hernia surgery at 49 when Aaron was 16. The son lost more than a father. He began using drugs, hanging around unsavory characters, and rebelling against rules and authorities. The first-round talent went to the New England Patriots in the fourth round. He continued to use narcotics, including angel dust, and hang around with losers when not around winners on the practice field. Despite blessings of talent and an organization known for discipline, number 81 pulled defeat from the jaws of victory as remarkably as his college and professional quarterbacks did the reverse.
Aaron Hernandez died a long time ago. At 4:07 a.m. Wednesday, his body finally caught up to his soul’s situation.