After a couple weeks of speculation regarding New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's status, things came crashing down hard on Wednesday as he was arrested by police at his North Attleborough, Mass. home and then released by the Pats, according to Rich Eisen of NFL Network.
Police arrest Aaron Hernandez, Patriots then release him. Here's the team statement: http://t.co/fzMW2a09Ab— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) June 26, 2013
The arrest occurred in conjunction with an ongoing investigation stemming from the death of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, according to Kevin Manahan of USA Today. Lloyd's body was reportedly found in an industrial park near Hernandez's home on June 17, and since Hernandez had been seen with Lloyd one day earlier, he became a prime suspect.
Although the arrest had seemingly been in the works for days, the Patriots releasing Hernandez quickly came as a shock to many. Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News was particularly surprised by the swift action of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and New England's powers that be:
Known for often taking the other side of the coin, ESPN's Michael Smith was more surprised that it took the Pats as long as it did to release Hernandez than by the release itself:
Honestly the only surprise about the Patriots releasing Aaron Hernandez is that it even took this long.— Michael Smith (@michaelsmith) June 26, 2013
The Patriots released a statement upon making the decision to part ways with Hernandez and while the organization recognized that the investigation has yet to come to a conclusion, it made the choice that it believed to be right, according to the SportsCenter Twitter feed:
Statement from the Patriots on releasing Aaron Hernandez: "At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 26, 2013
New England has already removed Hernandez from its roster on Patriots.com, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell:
Not everyone related to Hernandez has been as quick as the Patriots to write him off, though. Hernandez endorses Puma athletic products and the company has yet to comment or take action with regards to Hernandez's status with the company (via Rovell):
Looks like Puma is waiting for more Aaron Hernandez news before terminating him as an endorser. Company had "no comment" this AM.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) June 26, 2013
Although Hernandez certainly appears to be in dire straits, the possibility remains that he could be innocent of whatever charges are brought against him. This is a point that Jason McIntyre of Big Lead Sports brought to light as he was taken off guard by New England's move:
Perhaps there are some NFL teams out there with the same mindset as McIntyre. If that is the case, then Hernandez could potentially find himself on another team. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Hernandez must pass through waivers, and teams have until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday to claim him.
Aaron Hernandez, with three years of service, has to go through waivers. Should know tomorrow at 4 p.m. if someone claims him.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 26, 2013
Money was clearly no object for the Patriots when they decided to cut Hernandez loose. According to the Spotrac.com Twitter feed, releasing Hernandez will still cost the Patriots nearly $13 million against the cap over the next two seasons:"
UPDATE: Confirmation Hernandez earned ALL '13 bonuses, & 13-14 salaries were g'teed. $12.71M cap charge (4M in 2013) http://t.co/5c5YZETlW6— Spotrac.com (@spotrac) June 26, 2013
Were the Patriots right to release Hernandez?
Very few things are impossible in the NFL, but another team claiming Hernandez is probably as close as it gets considering what he is facing. Football is likely the last thing on the mind of Hernandez and those close to him, though.
ESPN's Matthew Berry is a fantasy football expert who is constantly crunching numbers and determining what roster moves mean for fantasy value, but he took a step back and focused on other things upon hearing about Hernandez's arrest and subsequent release:
Fantasy & football aside, what a terrible, sad story all around. Someone lost their life. I admire Patriots statement http://t.co/7RsDCULlaS— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) June 26, 2013
The overall reactions did not slow down once the charges were announced. The Boston Globe reported the details of the arraignment:
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez ordered held without bail after pleading not guilty to murder and other charges.— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) June 26, 2013
ESPN's Adam Schefter also added details about the additional charges:
Aaron Hernandez charged with murder and five gun-related charges; pleads not guilty.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 26, 2013
While this story has been circulating for about a week, the actual arrest caught many by surprise. This is especially true of the first-degree murder charge. Rachel Nichols of Turner Sports was one of a large portion of people expressing the shock with the announcement:
What's the twitter symbol for a jaw dropping? RT @MikeReiss: Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murder.— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 26, 2013
The one redeeming factor in this incident is that hopefully others learn from it in the future. Peter Schrager of Fox Sports hopes that the young players in the NFL are learning the lesson:
I hope the rookies at the NFL Symposium today get a good view of 23-year-old Aaron Hernandez right now. Hope something sinks in.— P. Schrager (@PSchrags) June 26, 2013
Still, it is often easy to get lost in the sports aspect of this and forget about the people involved. Stuart Scott discussed the raw emotion on display when the charges were read:
Aaron Hernandez..big tough NFL star..chrgd w murder..telling moment..just b4 leaving courthouse..raised handcuffed hands & wiped tears away.— Stuart Scott (@StuartScott) June 26, 2013
Ian Rapoport relays a quote from Hernandez's lawyer on how the player was doing mentally:
Only question attorney Michael Fee took was on how Aaron Hernandez is. Said, "Aaron is fine." Then walked off.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 26, 2013
Of course, this is a lot to take in for everyone involved, so it will be a while before anyone is truly "fine."
In a situation as delicate as Aaron Hernandez's, there is no one way fans should feel about it. A lot happened to him from a personal and professional perspective, and there is no doubt that more information will come to light moving forward.
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