Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Aaron Hernandez drama should be a reminder for teams to further evaluate character concerns

Aaron Hernandez J_Belichick

Five days after he was found not guilty of double-murder, former Patriots tight-end Aaron Hernandez committed suicide

Last Wednesday officials at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center confirmed the death of Aaron Hernandez. According to reports, the former NFL star was found inside his cell after he hung himself. Sources also claim that he had John 3:16 written on his forehead, one of the more iconic scriptures in the Bible. Nearly two weeks ago, a Massachusetts jury found Hernandez not guilty in the shooting deaths of two men.

He was already serving a life sentence for killing Odin Lloyd. At the time, prosecutors were unsure of a motive, but after Hernandez left behind letters to his wife, daughter, and gay lover, the murder became more clear. Law enforcement believed Lloyd had intentions of revealing Hernandez’s sexuality to his now widowed wife.

Officials in Worchester County ruled his death was a suicide. Ironically, Aaron Hernandez’s death occurred the same day his former team visited the White House. As the league approaches its annual draft, the death of Aaron Hernandez is a hallowing reminder for teams when evaluating players with character issues. Coming out of Florida, Hernandez was an exceptional on-field talent, but it was the off-the-field issues that shied teams away.

Aaron Hernandez 2010 draft profile

Hernandez enrolled at Gainesville as a 17-year old freshman. One year after the unexpected death of his father. Coming out of Florida, Aaron Hernandez had a ton of red-flags. Numerous teams had Hernandez removed from their draft boards most notably the Bengals and Colts. Hernandez was a person if interest in a double shooting and confessed to rupturing a man’s eardrum during his time at Florida.

“They couldn’t pin a lot of stuff on him (at Florida),” said one AFC college scouting director at the time. “But people at the school would tell you, ‘Every time there’s an issue, he’s around it.’ If there was trouble, Hernandez’s name would come up. … He was a con guy. Very believable. Spoke well. A lot of things inside of you hoped you’d turn him around, but people that I talked to said they didn’t trust him, that he’d burn you.”

In a report from the Wall Street Journal, Human Resource Tactics (a firm used by 18 NFL teams) had this assessment on Aaron Hernandez. In a section highlighted social maturity, Hernandez scored a one out of 10.

“Hernandez might get along well with most of his teammates but will find little time to help them. He enjoys living on the edge of acceptable behavior and that he parties too much and does questionable things that could be seen as a problem for him and his team.Hernandez sees himself as a football player first above all else and  will place a high priority on football and what it takes to be successful.”

How does Aaron Hernandez impact this week’s draft?

There are several players with exceptional talent but major character issues in this year’s class. On April 13th, former Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley allegedly knocked a woman unconscious knocking out several teeth. Believed by many to be a first or second round pick, Brantley’s stock is surely to slip as the timing of the incident could not have been worse. Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook are two of the more talented running back prospects in years, but come with major off-field issues.

Although Cook has never been found guilty of any crimes, he’s had several run-ins with the law. In 2009, Cook was arrested and charged with robbery. Exactly one year later, Cook was arrested and charged with firing and possession of a fire arm. In June of 2014, Cook was charged with criminal mischief for firing a B.B. gun causing property damage. A month later, Dalvin Cook was cited animal cruelty. One year later, Dalvin Cook was charged with misdemeanor battery for punching a woman in the face.

Mixon however, doesn’t have as many red-flags Cook. However this video of him striking a woman in 2014 has had a devastating impact on his draft status. Had it not been for the incident, Joe Mixon would almost undoubtedly be a first-round pick. These prospects have similar character concerns as Hernandez did and as a result they, may drop to the later rounds


La’el Collins was a first-round prospect but went undrafted in 2015. Collins was a person of interest in the death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend but had his name cleared. The Cowboys took a gamble on Collins and now he’s a m part of their highly touted offensive line. Just last year, the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Tyreke Hill in the fifth round. Hill pleaded guilty to assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, but he had a stellar rookie season. Teams must do their due diligence when assessing players with character concerns. As they must consider these instances case-by-case. If the talent trumps the character issues, surround the player with the necessary resources to be productive on and off the field.