I know this will stun some folks but I don’t watch football. It’s just not my thing. What I knew about this case was limited. New England Patriot’s player Aaron Hernandez, a man at the top of his game professionally, had been convicted of murder then had hanged himself. That was what I knew going into this mini-series on Netflix.
The series is very good and well produced. There’s some hopping around that takes place but they make great use of a timeline to help you keep track of what is happening. What emerges is a very complex story. It is a strange cocktail of sorts to watch. Hernandez apparently, from what was shown, was gay, which may have led to some emotional conflict in his life. He had a drug problem in that he vigorously chain-smoked marijuana. Anyone saying that pot smoking is harmless needs to see it in the context of the person doing the smoking – and in this case, Hernandez lived his later years high. He is portrayed as a young man that had a strained relationship with his mother. Hernandez surrounded himself with horrible people which led to not just one murder, but several. His family members covered up for him, which in the end, only made matters worse.
You get a story that is purely American with some almost neo-gothic twists. The New England Patriots tried to fill a void in his life in terms of discipline, but failed miserably. They knew he was emotionally immature, but he became immersed in a lifestyle that allowed him whatever he wanted. There were no boundaries with him, and that led to a spectacular downfall.
Was he the victim of repeated concussions? Certainly that case is made at the end of the series, but you realize that even with his head trauma, there was something else at play…a lack of moral compass or control. When I was done watching it I felt that his downfall was inevitable and was destined to be spectacular. Hernandez is an American tragedy and one we have not learned from. You are left wondering how many others are out there just like him.
It is notable that his wife and family didn’t take part in the series, nor did the Patriots. So you are left wondering if there was even more to this story that we have yet to see.
Overall, I give this four out of five stars. Good true crime. I’m sure football fans will rate it much higher.