Last week reports surfaced that the body of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd - an acquaintance of Hernandez's - was found by a jogger in a clearing of an industrial park about a mile away from Hernandez's mansion. The body was found near a vehicle that Hernandez had rented.
Last Friday, ABC News reported that Hernandez was expected to be arrested for obstruction of justice after police found that the security system at his home as well as his cell phone were intentionally destroyed. Investigators also wanted to know why a cleaning crew had been hired to scrub his home last Monday, but Hernandez would not cooperate with the police in their investigation.
Despite the report that Hernandez was expected to be taken in for obstruction, for days nothing happened. Then around 9 a.m on Wednesday morning Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder and also faces five weapons counts in connection with Lloyd's death.
Less than two hours after he was arrested, the Patriots released the tight end - a player that only 10 months ago they had signed to a new contract worth $40 million.
Hernandez was expected to be one of the cornerstones of the Patriots offense for years to come - combining with tight end Rob Gronkowski to make up one of the best, if not the best, tight end tandem in the NFL. He was not just the Pats second best tight end though, he was arguably their second best receiver going into this season after they decided not to resign Wes Welker. In 10 games with the Patriots last season Hernandez had 51 receptions for 483 with 5 touchdowns and averaged 9.5 yards per catch. Those numbers were down from his previous two season. In 2011 he had 79 receptions for 910 yards with 7 touchdowns and in 2010 - his rookie season - he had 45 receptions for 563 yards and 6 touchdowns while playing in 14 games both seasons. The future looked bright for the young receiver and the Pats reinvestment in him seemed at first blush to be a good move. That said, their decision to release him was the right move - even if it was strictly a PR move to protect the image of the franchise.
In some ways, for people that were a little more knowegable of Hernandez, it may not be a shock that something like this happened.
The Patriots drafted him out of the University of Florida in 2010 in the fourth round. Hernandez had the talent to be a first round draft pick, but dropped three rounds because there were questions about his character. Additionally, a lawsuit was recently refiled in Floriday by a man named Alexander S. Bradley who claims that Hernandez shot him in the arm in February. According to reports, Bradley claims the bullet travelled to his head causing him to lose his right eye. Hernandez was also questioned in 2007 in connection with a shooting in Gainesville, Fla.
Professional athletes getting in legal trouble is nothing new; in fact it seems to happen quite a bit. However, the crime is usually not of this nature. The last high profile NFL player in recent memory to undergo a murder investigation was former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. On Jan. 31, 2000 Lewis was at a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta, Ga. when a fight broke out between him and his friends and another group of people. Two young men were stabbed to death. One of the victims blood was found on the inside of Lewis's limo and the white suit he was wearing that night was never found. Lewis ultimately took a plea deal to get the charges against him dropped in exchange for testifying against two of the men in his party. The judge gave him 12 months probation and he was fined $250,000 by the NFL. The next year, Lewis was MVP of Super Bowl XXXV. Since 2000 he has transformed his image and he will most assuredly be inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame in five years when he becomes eligible.
It remains to be seen what will happen with Hernandez, but the odds are that his once promising NFL career is over. If he is charged and convicted of obstruction alone that will carry a significant sentence that will include quite a bit of jail time. Even if he got out of prison in a "reasonable" amount of time - at least as it pertains to professional athletes - the likilihood that Commissioner Roger Goodnell would reinstate him into the NFL is virtually nil. Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison in 2007 for his role in a dog fighting operation and it wasn't easy for him to get back in the NFL. If Hernandez is acquitted of whatever charges are brought against him he will still undoubtedly be suspended, or perhaps even banned, from the league for a period of time. Then of course there is the question of who would sign him to a contract anyway.
In reading about situations such as this it's hard not to wonder why an individual in Hernandez's position - someone who has so much going for him -would do something like this or, if he truly is not guilty, put himself in such a precarious situation.
Given the amount of incriminating circumstantial evidence against him, it seems that Mr. Hernandez may have plenty of time to think about that over at least the next 5-10 years.