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Sports

July 11, 2013

Column: Hernandez shows perils of hero worship

Robert Kraft claims he was duped, though the owner of the New England Patriots seemed to have plenty of warnings before taking tight end Aaron Hernandez in the 2010 NFL draft.

The fact Hernandez was left untouched by other teams until midway through the fourth round despite his obvious physical skills was one. So was an incident while Hernandez was at the University of Florida, when the 17-year-old allegedly refused to pay for two drinks at a bar and then sucker-punched an employee who tried to collect.

And then there was a psychological profile from a scouting service widely distributed among NFL teams that ranked him on the bottom of the scale for social maturity and indicated there could be problems ahead.

“Hernandez’s ... responses suggest that he enjoys living on the edge of acceptable behavior and that he may be prone to partying too much and doing questionable things that could be seen as a problem for him and his team,” said the report by Human Resource Tactics, which was obtained by Wall Street Journal.

If Kraft was duped, so were fans who shelled out 100 bucks for a No. 81 jersey. They didn’t have access to psychological profiles, didn’t know much about Hernandez other than he was a big tight end with soft hands.

They loved him because he could catch touchdown passes, and they cheered before last season when he was given a new $40 million contract to be Tom Brady’s biggest target.

Now Hernandez sits in a jail cell, charged with a murder portrayed in court documents as a cold-blooded execution. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge. He’s also being investigated in connection with a double killing in Boston last year involving a car rented in his name.

Millionaire sports hero one day, just another inmate the next. There may never have been such a spectacular fall by an active player.

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