Surely we know the difference between entertainment and real life? How then, wonders Nathan Graziano, do we explain the collective conversation about the arrest of Aaron Hernandez for the murder of Odin Lloyd.
I’m a New England sports’ fan, born and bred. One of my first sports’ memories involves my father waking me up in 1986—while I was asleep, resting for a sixth grade spelling test—to watch the Red Sox finally win the World Series against the Mets. Then Calvin Schiraldi came in. Then Bob Stanley. Mookie Wilson.
Bill Buckner. Ray Knight.
Despite the halcyon days of the new Millennium, New England fans have been inveterately conditioned for heartbreak. Therefore, when the Bruins dumped a two goal lead in 17 seconds to a superior Chicago Black Hawks team the other night, I wasn’t staggered or stunned, rather strangely stolid, reciprocating looks with my father, as if it say, This is not our first rodeo.
Then today, like many of the New England rubber-neckers, I watched as former-Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested in his South Attleboro home, his white t-shirt draped over his head with his hands cuffed behind his back, and carted off for arraignment where he was charged for the murder of Odin Lloyd.
All day, I listened as Boston sports talk radio postulated about the future of the New England Patriots, who have also seemingly lost consummate frat-boy Rob Gronkowski to a back surgery next season. Could Coach “In-Belichick-We-Trust” and Christ-like Tom Brady possibly finagle something with million-dollar baby Danny Amendola and the hapless and unequivocally pious Tim Tebow?
But, boy, that troubled punk Aaron Hernandez from the University of Florida, the tattooed kid with whom Bob Kraft and Patriots invested multi-million dollars to be a franchise player for almost a decade, has really stuck it to us.
Us? The team? The fans?
Sports, despite our fervor and exhaustive devotion, are a form of entertainment. For all the hours we watch our prized gladiators compete, they are ultimately a diversion from the banalities of our everyday lives. Sports are topics of conversation, statistics for alpha-men to memorize—a pissing contest without getting sprayed.
Aaron Hernandez’ alleged murder of Odin Lloyd, however, is real life. A 28-year-old man has been slain, his family crushed and grieving, and anyone who has the audacity to care about the Patriots’ 2013 fate needs a face-full of perspective. In that courtroom, a mother grieving the death of her boy looked at the man accused of taking the life of her son and died a bit herself. It shouldn’t matter whether or not that man was an accomplished tight-end for one the most storied franchises in NFL history. Odin Lloyd’s mother was looking at an accused murderer, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t give a shit that he caught for nearly 1000 yards in 2011.
Sure, I grieved the Bruins losing this year. I grieved the Patriots’ Superbowl losses in 2007 and, again, in 2011. I always grieve The Red Sox—it comes with the territory. But to equate that grief with what the Lloyd family is feeling right now is obscene and egregious.
Aaron Hernandez is a sad case—a case we’re following because he’s a football star. Odin Lloyd is the man who should be forefront in our thoughts, prayers and concerns.
Odin Lloyd is real life. Aaron Hernandez’ real life now has nothing to do with a post pattern.
photo of Odin Lloyd, taken by his sister Dec. 25, 2012 / AP and Boston Bandits