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Sports

July 11, 2013

Column: Hernandez shows perils of hero worship

(Continued)

During the weekend, the Patriots held an event for fans to exchange their Hernandez jerseys for others.

The conversations on the drive to the stadium must have been awkward. How do you tell a kid that the athlete he or she idolized — whose name was stitched across their back — is an accused killer?

There are other conversations that should be just as uncomfortable: How can parents promote hero worship of athletes when they know so little about the person in the uniform? Why are we so quick to idolize someone based simply on their ability to throw or catch a ball?

Hernandez is, of course, innocent until found guilty. That’s a basic tenet of our legal system, and sometimes things aren’t always what authorities say.

But the account of semi pro player Odin Lloyd being lured to an early morning car ride and then shot to death at what was supposed to be a bathroom stop is chilling. So is the police narrative of Hernandez’s reaction when they asked him later about a body being found nearby. They said he didn’t ask who died.

“What’s with all the questions?” police said Hernandez asked before shutting the door on them. He returned with his attorney’s business card, but didn’t respond when police told him they were investigating the death, according to court records.

This isn’t just another NFL player arrest, something we’ve become accustomed to over the years. This is uncharted territory, as evidenced by the way Kraft and the Patriots handled it.

Criticize them for signing Hernandez in the first place, sure, but within 90 minutes of his arrest, they cut him despite knowing they’d have to take a hit on the salary cap. His locker was quickly cleaned out, and they further washed their hands of him with the jersey trade-in weekend at Gillette Stadium.

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