In the fallout from the arrest of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on murder charges, Patriots owner R0bert Kraft said the team and he was “duped” by Hernandez and bought into the belief he was a changed man. It’s been well documented Hernandez had his share of troubles as a teenager and then during his playing days at the University of Florida. Apparently, Hernandez wasn’t able to run away from his troubles as he now awaits trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd. In life, we all know there are going to be people who get into trouble and make mistakes. It’s how they learn from those mistakes and life lessons that make a difference, if a person happens to get a second chance. In other words, players, and people in general, have to be held accountable for their own actions. So why is the question being asked about what the Patriots could have done better to keep Hernandez from going astray? Not only is this Patriots situation in question, but now people want to question the process of professional sports teams evaluating players before they get drafted. Here’s the blunt truth. No matter what a team, or what an individual who wants the best for that particular person does, it is up to that sought after player to abide by the rules set in place. There are plenty of avenues and agencies out there to get the help they might need in order to stop themselves from going down the wrong path. The Patriots are widely known as one of the best organizations in all of sports, and that wasn’t enough to keep Hernandez from choosing the path he chose. You can talk to a person time and time again, telling him or her what’s right and what’s wrong. The fact of the matter is you can’t help anyone who doesn’t want to help themselves. You also can’t expect a team to watch and monitor every step a player in their organization takes. The Patriots, and the National Football League (NFL) are business organizations, not babysitting services. These are grown men, not infants. With that comes the responsibility to take care of yourself and the people around you. Along with that responsibility is the expectation to follow simple rules. If that person doesn’t, then he deserves to get into trouble. I would expect to get into trouble if I’m not responsible for my actions. To keep things in perspective, it’s not just the NFL who has these problems, it’s just about any organization in society who has these issues. The NFL just comes under more scrutiny since it’s the most popular sport in the nation. During my days in the military, I’ve had the privilege of supervising several troops. It was my job to make sure they knew the ins and outs of the military. I also had to make sure they knew how to get a hold of me and others just in case they found themselves in a compromised situation. At the end of the day, their choices are their choices, and you only hope they make the right ones. If not, then you try to be their to help them get back on their feet, assuming they don’t face jail time. Hernandez, not the Patriots, made some bad choices, and now he has to face the music. Nobody can save him now. The sad thing we see players have their dreams come true, only to throw it all away because of poor life decisions all the time. Even with that said, one wouldn’t think it would get to the point of murdering someone. I’m not saying Hernandez is guilty, but the evidence against him looks pretty damning. This is the path Hernandez chose to take, and everyone is responsible for choosing their path. It’s time to stop looking at what organizations can do differently and start looking at the individuals who make these choices. The organizations can’t life their lives for them.
By Charles Taylor