Aaron Hernandez felt like nothing could touch him. He felt he could do what he wanted and nothing could stop him or hold him accountable. After all, nothing ever had.
Fights in college. Alleged shootings. Nothing brought him down. People looked the other way or asked for money or figured he just couldn’t be part of it.
First, it was his talent alone that put him at the top, playing for some of the best teams Florida football has ever seen. Then, when he hit the NFL, it was money and fame. Playing for one of the premier teams in the league, on television every Sunday.
With a contract worth $40 million, he felt he could buy his way out of anything. With his fame and stature, he also thought he could talk his way out of it. He’d tested it out his entire life, drifting into more and more illicit activity, pushing the envelope to see just what he could get away with, and no one ever pushed back.
“I’m invincible,” he thought.
No longer. He’s been convicted of murder that carries a minimum sentence of life behind bars. He can never seek parole.
In a twist of irony, the prison they’re temporarily putting him in until he can be classified and transferred, Walpole, sits practically in the shadow of Gillette Stadium. From $40 million to a four-foot cell, and just a few miles between them. That’s the new life of Aaron Hernandez.
The world finally caught up with him.
For Hernandez, the same complex that made him think no one could touch him was also the one that did him in. The shooting of Odin Lloyd was sloppy and careless. Hernandez walked around his house with a gun in hand, fully aware that he had a security camera that was recording the entire thing. That’s not something a person does if he’s worried about getting caught. That’s something he does if he thinks that even this, even murder, is not that big of a deal.
Video evidence? Money, fame and a handshake would make it go away. What did it matter that he recorded himself with a gun? Nothing had ever mattered before. He was invincible.
But no more.
It’s fair to say the reason Hernandez lived this way is because he was drunk with power. He loved the respect, the adoration and the money. He loved what that money brought him and the way others looked at him. He loved being able to give orders and watch people follow because he was the big dog and it was his pack and he gave the damn orders. He loved pretending to be tough and posturing and showing people how strong he was so that they’d look at him with respect. Or what he thought was respect.
Some of it came from the game. When Lloyd was famously asked who he was with, he didn’t text back Hernandez’s name. He just wrote “NFL.”
Not only did Lloyd refer to Hernandez by the league in which he played, but his sister, who got those texts, just thought it was his way of bragging. Because that was how everyone looked at Hernandez, and it fueled his own outlook.
But that’s not the real world. Hernandez’s twisted viewpoint put him in some imaginary land where there are no consequences and where he was always in full control. He tested it and tested it and believed it was true, but it was the furtherest thing from true. It was a delusion, created by a football player who wanted to play tough and act like a man when he was really just a coward. And, as always, the real world caught up.
Hernandez will have the rest of his life to think about what that means.