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June 20, 2024 44 mins

Join host Jay Harris as he continues exploring the complex life of Aaron Hernandez. This episode further examines the turbulent saga of the NFL star, detailing how early struggles and connections shaped his journey from a promising athlete to a convicted felon. Learn how his return to New England marked the beginning of a tragic downfall, weaving together professional highs with personal lows that ultimately led to disaster.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome back to playing dirty sports scandals. I'm Jay Harris,
your host and barista extraordinary, serving up the juiciest sports
scandals you crave. Unfortunately, the tail on tap we started
last week only becomes more distasteful with a conclusion that
is so bloody, dark and tragic it's downright painful to digest.
But hey, it's my job to serve up scandals and

(00:30):
give you access to the CD side of sports. So
bottom's up. So far, we've navigated the turbulent blend of
Aaron hernandez'z early life, starting with his beginnings in Bristol, Connecticut,
to his rise as a football sensation at the University

(00:52):
of Florida and then ultimately as a draft pick into
the NFL by the New England Patriots. I share the
complexities of Airan's upbringing with you, delving into the adversity
his family encountered with financial instability and criminality, domestic violence,
and of course, the sudden loss of his father, Dennis Hernandez.

(01:12):
Amidst the conflicting backdrop of his athletic triumphs and personal battles,
it was Aaron's off field behavior characterized by aggression, questionable
associations and substance abuse that was increasingly stealing headlines and
looming large over his promising NFL future. What would happen next?

(01:33):
Aaron Hernandez had entered his professional career like Mentos and
Asda Caid, ready to explode. How did this happen? Why
would any NFL team take on such a huge risk? Hmm?
Remember how I told you about coach Urban Meyer over
at the University of Florida and his practice of protecting
Florida Gators' star players at any cost. Well, urban Meyer

(01:56):
is fast friends with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
According to The Boston Globe, the two coaches met in
the winter of two thousand and five and have spent
time together outside of work routinely ever since, with Belichick
telling reporters quote, I go back a long way with
urban Meyer and calling him a great man and a
great friend. So one could assume that Erban Meyer used

(02:19):
his friendship currency with Bill Belichick to pull the deal
over the finish line for Aaron and assuming that urban
Meyer did vouch for Aaron Hernandez's readiness to turn a
new leaf in the pros to Bill Belichick, it was
a touchdown, Urban Meyer could say yet another one of
his players had gone pro, and Aaron Hernandez had his
NFL dream realized. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, meanwhile, had signed

(02:42):
on for a whole lot more trouble than he could
have ever imagined. Bringing Aaron back to New England, where
his roots and troubles ran deep, instantly introduced challenges that
would contribute to the abrupt end of his NFL career
and ultimate his life. In fact, the potential impact of

(03:03):
geographical distance on Aaron Hernandez's trajectory was noted by Greg Badard,
a seasoned football columnist. Badard, who closely followed Aaron's career, speculated,
I think this story would have turned out a lot
differently if he's, say, in Seattle or San Francisco, or
someplace just out of reach of Bristol, Connecticut. And maybe

(03:25):
Greg Badard is right, because even Dennis Sansusi, Aaron hernandez
close childhood friend and high school football teammate, expressed deep
reservations about him moving back north when he heard about
the Patriots draft him. Going to New England was the
worst thing the NFL could have done. Sansusie reflected to
the Boston Globe, the one place you don't send him

(03:46):
back is where he tried getting away from. So there
was Aaron Hernandez back close to his old stomping grounds
at just twenty years old, having become the youngest player
in the NFL form millions of people. He was now
a symbol of potential redemption and proof that talent could
outshine adversity. But the problem with being a symbol is

(04:07):
that underneath the sheen of front facing glory, the same
old problem still often exists, just buried deep down away
from the spotlight. Such was the case for Aaron even
as he embarked on his rookie season with the Patriots,
Aaron Hernandez was back in Bristol on his off time,
again entangled with local criminals, smoking weed and getting into trouble.

(04:31):
But as long as Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't know
well what harm could come of it. Right at first,
it's safe to assume that Coach Belichick didn't know that
anything was amiss. After all, Aaron Hernandez was a Titan
on the field, partnering with Rob Gronkowski, who even to
this day, is largely regarded as one of the greatest

(04:52):
tight ends of all time. Aaron quickly became a lynch
pin in the Patriots strategy, offering the team an offense
versatility that was both envied and feared across the NFL.
He recorded forty five receptions and six touchdowns in his
rookie season, a rare feat for someone so young, to
say the least. Moving into a second season, Aaron Hernandez

(05:17):
star continued to rise. He caught seventy nine passes for
nine hundred ten yards and seven touchdowns, demonstrating an athleticism
that made him one of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite targets. However,
as the Patriots marched toward the Super Bowl in Aaron's
standout twenty eleven season, the rising star gave his team
and fans a scare. In a pivotal Divisional round playoff

(05:41):
game against the Broncos, a determined Aaron Hernandez, in an
effort to score the first rushing touchdown of his NFL career,
collided with Denver linebacker Joe Mays after advancing only two
yards of the needed four. The impact left erin with
a concussion, his second documented brain injury. Despite appearing groggy

(06:02):
as he walked off the field and receiving medical attention
on the sidelines. The Patriots classified his concussion as minor.
As a result, Aaron was in practice the following week,
though he was listed as limited. Aaron's head injury and
get on with it approach to recovery happened amid growing
concerns about players safety in the NFL, as the league

(06:23):
was grappling with the implications of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or
CTE following the suicides of former players diagnosed with the condition.
But the concerns were just rumblings at this point. Remember,
the NFL didn't formally acknowledge CTE as an organization until
twenty sixteen. That's five years after this incident with Aaron,

(06:47):
so without paying too much mind to their young tight
ends injury, the Patriots continued to train and play hard,
with Aaron helping lead the team to Super Bowl forty six,
and though they didn't clinch the championship, Aaron hernandez performance
on the sport's biggest stage was undeniable. His pivotal contributions
were recognized in twenty twelve when the Patriots rewarded him

(07:09):
with a five year contract extension. Worth forty one million
dollars with a guaranteed twelve and a half million signing bonus.
At the time, this was the largest bonus ever for
a tight end. It signaled the Patriots' faith in his
potential and solidified his status as a key player for
the franchise's future. It seemed that Aaron was having a

(07:32):
pinch me moment and that he was well on his
way to personal fulfillment and professional greatness. He told reporters, quote,
this place changed me as a person because you can't
come here and act reckless. I was one of those persons.
I came here and might have acted the way I
wanted to act. But you get changed by Bill Belichick's way,

(07:54):
you get changed by the Patriot way. And now that
I'm a Patriot, I have to start living like one,
making the right decisions for them and to the outside world,
it looked like Aaron was doing just that, living within
the lines and enjoying the American dream. He bought a
one point three million dollar mansion in North Attleborough's prestigious

(08:14):
Westwood Estates and moved into it with his longtime girlfriend,
Seyanna Jenkins, whom he'd known since elementary school. They welcomed
a daughter, Avl Hernandez, together, adding another layer to an
already idyllic picture. Aaron was seemingly cementing his status as
a fulfilled man living a charmed life. Fatherhood is definitely

(08:36):
a great experience. She's a beautiful little girl. I am excited,
Aaron Hernandez told the press, his voice filled with emotion.
I'm happy, see me smiling. But this seemingly classic successful
pro athlete's existence concealed a more complex reality. Beyond the
mansion's walls. Hernandez life was still fraught with contradictions. For

(09:03):
one thing. Despite becoming engaged to the mother of his child,
Shanna Jenkins, there was growing speculation that Aaron Hernandez was gay.
And not only was he gay, according to his high
school friend and quarterback teammate Dennis Sansusi and his older
brother Dj Hernandez, but Aaron had terribly conflicted emotions about

(09:24):
his sexuality, stemming from early childhood sexual abuse and his
father's enforced machismo. According to CNN, Aaron allegedly shared that
at just six years old, he was forced to perform
oral sex by an older boy during a game of
hide and seek. He never got over this. According to
his older brother DJ, and When DJ allegedly walked in

(09:46):
on Aaron in bed with two male friends at a
bachelor party many years later, he claims that he asked
Aaron if he was gay, saying, if you are, I
don't care. I love you. You're my brother. But according
to DJ, Aaron reacted with sheer fury, screaming, don't you
ever ask me that again. If you say that again,
I'll fucking kill you. Dennis and Susie's revelations about their

(10:12):
time together in high school mirror DJ's story. According to Sansusi,
he and Aaron Hernandez had an intermittent sexual relationship that
spanned from middle school through high school. Me and Aaron
always had a great relationship and bond, but in middle
school it progressed to just more than friends. We were
very much into trying to hide what we were doing.

(10:34):
We didn't want people to know. I was in such
denial because I was an athlete. Sansusi said, you mean
to tell me that the quarterback and the tight end
were gay. He sleeps with other men. No, it doesn't
sit right with people. It didn't sit right within our
own stomachs at the time. Sansusi further described his alleged
relationship with Aaron Hernandez as weird says, both of their

(10:57):
dads were openly homophobic. After making out, it was like,
did someone catch us? Did someone know? Dude? If we
get caught, it's ruined. Our parents are going to disown us.
We had to hide what we were. Dennis and Susi
wouldn't come out as gay for many years, and for Aaron,

(11:18):
this additional layer of duplicity within his own life added
substantial pressure. He grappled with his personal and professional stresses
by hitting the nightclubs, where naturally, his associations with questionable
characters continued unabated. The difference now was that Aaron Hernandez
had an awful lot of money. It was a recipe

(11:43):
for disaster, and on the night of July fifteenth, twenty twelve,
the situation came to a head when Aaron, accompanied by
his hometown friend and assistant Alexander Bradley, ventured into the
Cure Lounge in Boston's Theater District. At that same club,
two immigrants from Cape Verdon, twenty nine year old daniel

(12:03):
lebru and twenty eight year old Saphiro Fortado were enjoying
drinks they accidentally knocked into Aaron Hernandez, spilling on the
volatile NFL Star. Now, most people would wipe off the
drink and move on with their night, given that the
dowsing was unintentional, Maybe if someone had already had too
many drinks and was feeling particularly vile, they might exchange

(12:25):
angry words and even throw a couple of punches. But
allegedly Aaron Hernandez waited until le Bru and for Tato
left the club and followed them hours later. Around two
thirty am on July sixteenth, twenty twelve, the unwitting friends
piled into their BMW along with three other men, as
Aaron continued to trail them in a silver SUV. When

(12:48):
daniel Lebru and Saphiro Fortado stopped at a red light,
Aaron Hernandez allegedly pulled up on their car's right side
and then quote fired a thirty eight caliber revolver multiple
times from the driver's side of his vehicle into the
passenger's side of the victim's vehicle. Daniel Lebru and Spiro

(13:08):
Fortado were each hit several times. A bro died from
a gunshot wound to the chest, and Fortado died from
a wound to the head. A third person was wounded
in the arm, and two others in the car ran
away without sustaining injuries. This is a shocking account and
investigators wasted no time trying to get to the bottom

(13:29):
of what had happened. Boston homicide detectives quickly reviewed surveillance
footage from the Cure Lounge and noted Aaron Hernandez among
the clubgoers that night. Initially, his presence was viewed by
the detectives as coincidental, but their opinion shifted when it
was revealed that the silver Suv, a loner from a

(13:50):
car dealership, had been hidden in Robert Valentine's garage. You
remember Terry Hernandez's maiden name, right, Valentine. Robert Valentine was
Aaron hernandez uncle. Now the silver Suv used in the
drive by shooting of daniel lebrou and Safiro Fortado could
be linked to the troubled tight end. Sadly, for the

(14:13):
devastated families of a bru In Fortado, the prosecution's case
was light on forensics and relied heavily on testimony from
Aaron hernandez friend and assistant Alexander Bradley, who received immunity
in exchange for taking the stand. Alexander Bradley said he
was with Aaron Hernandez during the fatal shooting, and since

(14:33):
the prosecution couldn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it
had been Aaron and not Alexander who pulled the trigger,
Aaron was acquitted of the double homicide. Chillingly, Aaron had
gotten a tattoo of a gun similar to the murder weapon,
with exactly five bullets, the same number of bullets that
had been fired. That is not random, That is not art.

(14:58):
That is evidence. Prosecutor Patrick Hagen said, that is a confession.
The deadly Cure Lounge incident left an indelible mark on
Aaron Hernandez, and not a good one. While you might
assume that he'd take such an experience and recognize the
need to dramatically shift his behavior, you be wrong, dead wrong.

(15:23):
Aaron instead became even more volatile and unpredictable. Even the
other Patriots players were increasingly concerned. Brandon Lloyd, a receiver
for the New England Patriots, shared his observations of Aaron
hernandez erratic behavior, portraying a man caught between extreme mood
shifts of aggression and vulnerability. There would be swings where

(15:44):
he'd be the most hyper masculine, aggressive individual in the room,
ready to fight somebody in fits of rage. Lloyd recounted, yet,
in stark contrast, Hernandez could also be the most sensitive
person in the room, talking about cuddling with his mother.
Aaron hernandez continuing association with his friends from Bristol was
definitely a worry for the other Patriots players, who knew

(16:08):
about their troubling influence and were wary of Aaron's behavior
in their presence. Dane Fletcher, a linebacker for the Patriots,
expressed his reservations about Aaron's Bristol entourage setting boundaries for
a Patriots get together by telling him, Chico, here's the
one rule. You can bring one of your friends. I
don't agree with your friends. You can bring one, but

(16:29):
not any more than that was Dane Fletcher worried about
what might happen in an altercation if the Patriot pals
were outnumbered by Aaron's Bristol buddies. It certainly wouldn't have
been an unreasonable concern. Despite the warning signs pointing to
Aaron's increasing instability. The Patriots had a lot pinned on

(16:50):
the broad shoulders of their talented tight end going into
the twenty twelve NFL season, But for once, Aaron couldn't
redeem himself on the field. He sustained an ankle injury
that sidelined him for six games, a significant setback that
was compounded by a shoulder injury a torn labrum that
he got promptly on his return to the gridiron in

(17:11):
a game against the Miami Dolphins. Aaron Hernandez soldiered through
the pain of the torn labrum in order to participate
in the season's final six games, which culminated in a
disappointing loss to Baltimore in the conference championship game. It
was to be the last game of Aaron Hernandez's short
but mostly stellar career. That off season for Aaron was

(17:36):
marked by turmoil. He and his assistant Alexander Bradley, seemingly
undeterred by their summer escapade and the resultant violent deaths
of daniel lebru and Saphiro Furtado, revisited the cure lounge.
Their departure from the venue escalated into a high speed
pursuit by state troopers, culminating in Alexander Bradley's dui arrest.

(17:58):
Aaron attempted to use his selectelebrity status to diffuse the situation,
reportedly saying Trooper, I'm Aaron Hernandez. It's okay this time. However,
it was anything but okay, and Aaron's fame offered no
shield against the consequences of their actions. Bradley's dui stuck.
The bad times continued from there. A subsequent trip to

(18:21):
Florida for a Super Bowl party hosted by Aaron hernandez
former teammate Deontay Thompson, only increased the divide between Aaron's
smiling public image and his private psychological turmoil. Amidst the celebrations,
Aaron's paranoia surged while at the Miami strip club Tutsis,
where he suspected the presence of undercover police surveillance. Now

(18:43):
his paranoia in this instance was not baseless. Alexander Bradley
would later imply that their shared secret, the double murder
of daniel Le Brow and Sofira Fertado, might well have
attracted heightened police attention. That shared secret had also ratcheted
up the tension between Aaron Hernandez and Alexander Bradley. Now
I've told you that Alexander Bradley was Aaron's longtime friend

(19:07):
and acting assistant, but he was a lot more than that.
Alexander was a dangerous guy in his own right, a
notorious drug kingpin and self proclaimed drug dealer. He was
exactly the kind of person the other Patriot players tried
to avoid engaging with. So when Aaron and Alexander had
a disagreement, it was just about guaranteed to be bloody.

(19:31):
That knight at Tutsi's in Miami, when Aaron was already
worried about undercover police, Alexander apparently commented that the cops
could be after him for the quote stupid shit he'd
done in Boston. That remark was all it took to
light Aaron Hernandez match. Aaron took Alexander to a somewhat
remote area later that night and allegedly shot him in

(19:52):
the head. Remarkably, Alexander Bradley survived the shot, but he
lost his right eye, possibly because he himself didn't have
great rapport with the police, and possibly because his account
of events was faulty, Alexander Bradley refused to cooperate with
the police investigating his shooting. Instead, he decided to try

(20:14):
and seek revenge against Aaron Hernandez directly. I didn't want
to talk to the police, Alexander Bradley said, when the
case finally came to court in March twenty seventeen. I
wanted mister Hernandez. I wanted his life. As Alexander Bradley recovered,
albeit with significant injuries, the fallout from that night began

(20:34):
to unfold, and a confrontation played out through text messages.
Alexander's messages to Aaron were a blend of threats and
demands for compensation, reflecting the deep scars left by the incident.
You left me with one eye and a lot of
head trauma. You owe for what you did, Alexander texted,
igniting a furious exchange that saw Aaron desperately trying to

(20:58):
navigate the threats looming over him. The once inseparable pair
were now dangerous enemies. In an effort to shield himself
from Alexander Bradley's relentless intimidation, Aaron Hernandez turned to Ernest
bo Wallace, a Bristol acquaintance of his with a checkered past,
for protection. It was clear that Aaron was genuinely worried

(21:21):
about the threat Alexander posed. In fact, Aaron was so
worried that he sought guidance from an unlikely confidant, Bill Belichick,
the new England Patriots head coach. Aaron's approach to Belichick
was uncharacteristic for an NFL player, signaling the depths of
his desperation. He viewed Belichick not just as a coach,

(21:42):
but as a surrogate father figure to whom he could
safely reveal his fears. Their planned meeting at Gillette Stadium, however,
fell through, pushing their discussion to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
This meeting represented a critical juncture, a moment where Into
might have redirected Aaron's path. Apparently, Aaron laid bare his

(22:05):
anxieties to Bill Belichick, expressing fears for his and his
family's safety and hinting at the tumult beneath his professional facade.
He allegedly spoke of feeling pursued, even fearing assassination on
the football field. A startling admission that highlighted his profound
sense of vulnerability and paranoia. Brian Murphy, Aaron Hernandez agent,

(22:28):
later testified about the gravity of the situation, recounting how
Aaron had even pondered a drastic career shift to ensure
his family's safety. He wanted to talk to Coach Belichick
about possibly being traded or released so he could go
play for one of the West Coast teams, Brian Murphy revealed,
underlining Aaron's desperation for a geographical escape from the threats

(22:52):
that shadowed him. Of course, many of the threats were
of his own making, but still, his outreach to Coach
Belichick seemed like I could cry for help from a
grown man drowning under the weight of his own bad choices.
The response from the Patriots, and specifically from Bill Belichick,

(23:12):
to Aaron hernandez plea for help, raises poignant questions about
the potential missed opportunities for intervention. Coach Belichick's seeming acknowledgment
of Aaron's concerns, only to later dismiss them, underscores a
disconcerting lack of sufficient response to a player clearly in
turmoil he was a twenty two year old kid who

(23:33):
was ultimately signed for an enormous amount of money, who
had known problems, and no one did anything to try
to address what was going on, said George Leean Tyre,
one of Aaron hernandez lawyers. But while what Attorney lean
Tyre said is certainly true, and while there were opportunities
for others to intervene, ultimately Aaron Hernandez was a grown

(23:56):
man responsible for his own actions, and those actions were unconscionable.
The descent of Aaron Hernandez into the abyss of his
darkest impulses marks a stark departure from the image of
an NFL star on the rise. With so much attention
going towards his anxieties around Alexander Bradley's revenge threats, Aaron's

(24:17):
commitment to football and the discipline it requires began to wane.
This drew the ire of Coach Belichick. Aaron hernandez flippant
attitude toward his professional responsibilities, coupled with a hint of
mockery towards Coach Belichick's reprimands, suggested a man increasingly detached
from the ramifications of his actions. Rolling Stone exclusively reported

(24:40):
that friends of Aaron Hernandez said he was using the
maniacal drug angel dust or PCP by this time and
was carrying a gun wherever he went. According to the magazine,
sources close to the tight End added that throughout the spring,
when players were expected to be preparing themselves for the
marathon NFL season, Aaron Hernandez had missed workouts and sessions

(25:02):
with a rehab trainer, and had been told by his
head coach Bill Belichick that he was one misstep from
being cut. Apparently, Aaron also blew off sessions with his
therapist Alex Guerrero and stood up Tom Brady, who was
running a camp for Patriots receivers. And while he was
sinking his relationships with the Patriots, Aaron was revving up

(25:25):
his associations with guys like Ernest bo Wallace and Carlos Ortiz,
both of whom had troubling pasts and were living listlessly
under the roof of Aaron's cousin, Tanya Singleton. These were
men who had never found their way, and sure enough
they were dragging Aaron Hernandez deeper and deeper into a
life of crime. Odin Lloyd A twenty seven year old

(25:47):
semi pro football player for the Boston Bandits had recently
become an integral part of Aaron Hernandez's life. Alongside Ernest
bo Wallace and Carlos Ortiz. Odin shared Aaron's interests in
a busy nightlife, video games, and marijuana. Plus he was
dating Aaron's fiance's sister, Shania Jenkins, further tying them together.

(26:10):
Their camaraderie, however, took a fatal turn in the early
hours of June fifteenth, twenty thirteen. After spending an evening together,
something about Odin Lloyd's actions incited Aaron Hernandez, now infamous wrath.
Did Odin become aware of Aaron's homosexuality and threaten to
out him. Did Aaron see Odin talking with men whom

(26:31):
Aaron had had earlier altercations with and feel betrayed. Nobody
knows for sure, but whatever went down on June fifteenth,
this much is clear. Odin Lloyd's fate was sealed. Even
as he celebrated his first Father's Day as a dad
with his own little daughter, Aviel. On June sixteenth, twenty thirteen,

(26:52):
Aaron Hernandez was orchestrating a deadly meet up with Odin Lloyd.
Aaron texted Odin under the pretense of continued friendship and
a possible drug pickup plan for the early hours of
the following morning. Then Aaron texted his two pals, Ernest
bo Wallace and Carlos Ortiz, asking them for help in

(27:13):
killing Odin Lloyd. And that is exactly what happened. The
ensuing events unfolded with chilling precision as Aaron, along with
Ernest and Carlos, picked up Odin Lloyd around two thirty
am on June seventeenth, twenty thirteen, under the pretense of
picking something up altogether, and then drove him to an

(27:36):
industrial park where his life was brutally ended between three
twenty three and three point thirty am in a hail
of gunfire. Odin sent cryptic final texts to his sister
from the passenger seat of Aaron's car just moments before
his murder, indicating his awareness of the peril he was in.

(27:57):
He texted her, did you you see who I am with? NFL?
Just so you know. Five forty five caliber bullet casings
matching the five bullet wounds in Odin Lloyd's body, were
found near where he was killed. Police would settle quickly
on Aaron Hernandez as their prime suspect, since he was

(28:19):
captured in video footage with Odin Lloyd not long before
the assassination. The investigation that followed peeled away the facade
of Aaron Hernandez's dual existence, revealing a man ensnared by
his own decisions and associations. Patriots coach Bill Belichick and
Patriot's owner Robert Craft, confronted with the possibility of one

(28:42):
of their player's involvement and murder, sought clarity swiftly and
directly from Erin. Both men were met with adamant denials
of any wrongdoing by Aaron. Robert Craft remembered finding Aaron
Hernandez in a weight room working out and pulling him
into an adjacent office for private talk. I told him

(29:03):
that I understood there was an incident, that it transpired,
and I wanted to know whether he was involved and
if he was any player that comes into our system
I consider part of our extended family, and I wanted
to get him help. Robert Kraft recalled, but Aaron said
he was not involved, that he was innocent, and that

(29:23):
he hoped that the time of the murder incident came
out because he said he was in a club. Later,
when Robert Kraft saw Aaron Hernandez one final time in
the stadium, he related that Aaron hugged and kissed me
and thanked me for my concern. Robert Kraft's final encounter
with Aaron Hernandez, marked by a hug and a kiss,

(29:45):
symbolized the tragic disconnect between Aaron's projected innocence and the
horrible reality of his actions. It wouldn't be long before
Robert Kraft and the world reali the full tragedy that
was the Aaron Hernandez saga. Just days later, on June
twenty sixth, twenty thirteen, Aaron was arrested, charged with first

(30:10):
degree murder and multiple firearms violations. Within two hours of
his arrest, the New England Patriots, facing a crisis unlike
any other in their storied history, had severed ties with
their once lauded tight end annulling the remainder of his
forty one million dollar contract. Globe sportswriter Greg Badard covered

(30:31):
the unraveling, writing, that's when you realized that this was
not going to probably end well for Aaron Hernandez. His
words encapsulated the shock and disbelief that must have enveloped
the higher ups who had once celebrated Aaron's athletic prowess
and signature. Megawatt smiled. Robert Kraft publicly expressed his sense

(30:53):
of betrayal, stating that he and the Patriots organization had
been duped by Aaron Hernandez. This sentiment was echoed by
coach Bill Belichick in a rare and emotional address. Belichick,
known for his stoic demeanor and focus on football operations,
admitted to feeling personally disappointed and hurt by the turn
of events. As the coach of the team, I'm primarily

(31:16):
responsible for the people that we bring into the football operation,
Bill Belichick solemnly declared. Overall, I'm proud of the hundreds
of players that have come through this program, but I'm
personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this. While
nobody could have foreseen just how debilitating of a downfall
Aaron would have, it's difficult to imagine that Bill Belichick

(31:38):
didn't regret not having helped his paranoid player who had
come to him asking for his help just months earlier.
The Patriot's locker room, a place once energized by Aaron
hernandez talent and charisma, was left to grapple with the
reality of his actions. Belichick, seeking to guide his team
through this tumultuous period, made made it clear that Aaron's

(32:01):
name would no longer be a part of their discourse.
Dane Fletcher recounted Coach Belichick's firm directive, Aaron Hernandez is
not part of this team, Belichick stated, unequivocally, he will
not be spoken about in this locker room. While the
NFL rolled on, Aaron Hernandez had to adjust from the
roar of Patriots fans to the austere confines of prison

(32:25):
as he awaited trial in the summer of twenty fourteen
at the Suffolk County Jail. His life, once filled with
Sunday glory, the rush of money, and the corderie of teammates,
was replaced by a seven x ten foot cell existence
with limited visits from his fiancee Chayana, and daughter Aviel
through a glass window. Yet, Aaron Hernandez seemed to find

(32:47):
a peculiar contentment in his new structured life, finding solace
and poker cribbage reading. Harry Potter and even deriving small
pleasure from warming snacks in the prison mindcrowave this man,
who had found a path to the top amidst the
chaos of the outside world, now found comfort in the

(33:08):
meticulous organization of his cell, describing it to us fiancee
Seanna Jenkins as my room is very organized. It's actually cozy.
I think I enjoy it too much. Aaron's adaptation to
prison life, with its enforced structure and routine, contrasted sharply
with the free spirited life he'd let outside. I tried

(33:29):
as hard as I could to live the dream life,
Aaron Hernandez confided during one of his nearly three hundred
phone calls from jail, but it didn't end up working out.
Mark Ziogus, who had coached Aaron years earlier in Little League,
detected a sense of relief in his letters from prison.
It almost feels like the pressure on Aaron is off

(33:49):
now that he is in jail. Mark said he must
have felt a lot of pressure. It makes you feel sad.
Why didn't he try to deal with it through counseling
or something. But prison is not a party, and the
seemingly peaceful existence Aaron was leading was merely a waiting
period leading up to his trial for the murder of
Odin Lloyd. Despite the damning evidence and the high profile

(34:13):
nature of the case, Aaron Hernandez seemed to remain hopeful
about his future, telling friends from his cell that they
know I ain't do shit. They know I'm innocent. But
even Aaron's own family wasn't convinced. Djy's enduring love for
his brother overshadowed the grim reality of Aaron's circumstances. Whether

(34:33):
Aaron did or did not do it, I don't know,
he said, And honestly, it's irrelevant, he continued, it really is.
He's in a situation because he decided to be in
the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong people.
I still love him. That's not going to change. If
I see him out here one day, the first thing
I'm going to do is give him a hug and

(34:55):
a kiss, just like we used to do with my father.
But dj never did get the chance to embrace his
brother Aaron in freedom again. On April fifteenth, twenty fifteen,
Aaron Hernandez was found guilty of Odin Lloyd's murder and
was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

(35:15):
This verdict catapulted Aaron from the Suffolk County Jail's relatively
relaxed atmosphere to the harsh confines of the Suza Bereanowski
Correctional Center. Moving from jail to maximum security prison is
often a tremendous culture shot for inmates, and this was
certainly the case for Aaron Hernandez. Allegedly, the guards taunted

(35:37):
the inmates in the regime inside the facility was so
strict as to be utterly dehumanizing. In fact, the prison
has itself been at the center of review, with an
inmate uprising occurring as recently as twenty seventeen, when prisoners
reported being denied basic rights such as showers. Arin, like

(35:57):
so many of the inmates at SUSA Baroniowski Correctional Center,
struggled against his new harsh reality. According to CNN, Aaron
racked up about a dozen separate disciplinary offenses between May
twenty fifteen and October twenty sixteen, including three fistfights, two
smoking related issues, two surprised prison tattoos, in possession of

(36:20):
a nearly six inch sharpened metal shive. This report certainly
paints a very dark picture of Aaron's life behind maximum
security bars. On Wednesday, April nineteenth, twenty seventeen, at three
oh five am, twenty seven year old Aaron Hernandez was
found hanged naked from a bed sheet attached to a

(36:41):
window in his cell at the suz of Barnowski Correctional Center.
John three point sixteen was written in blood on his
forehead and on the prison cell wall. That passage reads,
for God so loved the world that he gave his
only begotten son, for whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life. State police said Aaron's right middle

(37:06):
finger had a fresh cut and there was blood on
his adjacent fingers. Besides the John three sixteen written on
his forehead, there also appeared to be a large circular
blood mark on each of his feet. His Bible had
been left open to John three sixteen, with the verse
marked in blood, and as reported by People magazine, three

(37:27):
handwritten notes were found next to that bible, one for
his fiance Shayanna Jenkins, one for his daughter Avil Jenkins Hernandez,
and one for his attorney, Jose Bayaz. To Shayana, he wrote,
you have always been my soulmate, and I want you
to love life and know I'm always with you. I

(37:48):
told you what was coming indirectly. I love you so
much and know you are an angel. We split into
two to come change the world. Your character, Ristic is
that of a true angel in the definition of God's love.
Tell my story fully, but never think anything besides how
much I love you. And to his young daughter, Aaron's

(38:11):
words were, Daddy will never leave you. I'm entering to
the timeless realm, in which I can enter into any
form at any time, because everything that could happen or
not happened, I see all at once. Life is eternal, believe.
In the wake of his death, even those intimately familiar

(38:33):
with Aaron's struggles expressed shock. Today my heart hurts, says
I got the worst news I could have imagined, NFL
Center Mike Pouncy said, and some, like Aaron's former agent
Brian Murphy, flat out didn't believe the police report. Absolutely
no chance he took his own life, Brian posted, Chico

(38:54):
was not a saint, but my family and I loved
him and he would never take his own life. As
the theories swirled, the scientists wasted no time they had
work to do. By twenty seventeen, CTE had been officially
recognized by the NFL, and medical professionals were keen to

(39:15):
understand how Aaron hernandez multiple head injuries might have contributed
to his life choices and untimely death. Seven months after
his suicide, the announcement came from Boston University CTE Center.
Aaron Hernandez had suffered from a severe case of CTE.
Doctor Ann McKee, the neuropathologist who heads up Boston University

(39:38):
CTE Center, which has studied the brains of more than
three hundred and thirty dead football players, stated that Aaron's
brain has been one of the most significant contributions to
our work. On a CTE severity scale of one to four,
Aaron hernandez brain was classified as Stage three. Doctor McKee

(39:59):
said she had never before seen so much damage in
anyone younger than forty six years old. The fact that
Aaron Hernandez was just twenty seven years old with that
much damage was devastating. The posthumous discovery of CTE prompted
a reevaluation of Aaron hernandez life and actions through the
lens of his debilitating neurological condition. He had certainly exhibited

(40:24):
behavior associated with CTE, including poor judgment, lack of impulse control, anger,
and paranoia, but distinguishing how much his actions were influenced
by his disease remains a complex and controversial challenge. After all,
Aaron's life was also marred by substance abuse, unresolved issues

(40:46):
related to his sexuality, and the impact of childhood trauma.
These factors make it impossible to attribute his behavior solely
to his neurological condition. As American psychologist Thomas Gilovich said,
we are the sum total of our experiences, well put,
and there are certainly a lot of experiences to add

(41:06):
up when it comes to accounting for the Aaron Hernandez story.
But as film director and actor Woody Allen, who himself
has come under public scrutiny multiple times for alleged sexual
misconduct counter equipped in the nineteen eighty nine film Crimes
and Misdemeanors, we are the sum total of our choices,

(41:27):
and here lies the crux of the Aaron Hernandez scandal
and ensuing saga experiences versus choices, The public remains incredibly divided.
Was he a victim of CTE or knowing aggressor wholly
responsible for his actions. Some view Aaron hernandez criminal actions
as utterly unforgivable, while others, like Doug Chef, the attorney

(41:51):
for Odin Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, have given real thought
as to whether Aaron's brain injury could explain the otherwise
inexplicable To mention the resounding opinion of doctor Bennettemalu, the
first doctor to identify CTE in football players, who said
Aaron Hernandez wasn't an evil man. No, he wasn't. He

(42:11):
was a sick man. Whatever you feel about the scandal
of Aaron Hernandez, in the end, Odin Lloyd, Sephira Fertado,
and daniel lebrou were dead alongside him, and speculations continue
to swirl to this day around other murders which may
or may not be attributable to the once great tight End.

(42:31):
Aaron's story is a tragic convergence of talent, turmoil and
unanswered questions. His journey from NFL stardom to death alone
in a prison cell reflects the profound impact of both
visible and invisible injuries, challenging all of us to consider
the unseen battles that individuals may face and the complex

(42:54):
legacy they leave behind. It's closing time with the Juice
bar for today after that starring Saga. This Barista is
all about self care and the Aaron Hernandez story is
a lot to digest. But don't worry. I'll be back
chock full of juice and raring to go with a
fresh new sports scandal next week. Right here on Playing

(43:16):
Dirty Sports Scandals, See you then. Playing Dirty Sports Scandals
is a production of Dan Patrick Productions, Never Ever Productions

(43:37):
and Workhouse Media from executive producers Dan Patrick, Paul Anderson,
Nick Panela, Maya Glickman, and Jennifer Clary. Hosted by Jay Harris,
Written and produced by Jen Brown, Francy Haiks, Maya Glickman,
and Jennifer Claire.
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