The Controversial Case of Aaron Hernandez
By: Kacey Decker
On April 20th, 2017, former tight end of the New England Patriots, Aaron Hernandez, was found dead in his Massachusetts prison cell.
Hernandez was on trial for two counts of murder in 2012 and was charged with a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2013.
It is believed that Hernandez’s murder was a suicide. Hernandez hanged himself with his
bed sheet and left three suicide notes for his family next to a copy of the Bible.
There is a possibility that damage to Aaron Hernandez’s brain from football incidents could have caused mental instability. This would therefore enable his daughter to sue the NFL in a “wrongful death” lawsuit.
Aaron’s brain is now being donated to BU’s CTE Research Center to determine whether or not Hernandez suffered from CTE. CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain that is caused by repetitive hits to the head. Mr. McPhillips explained that CTE researchers look for Tau, which is a buildup of protein in the brain. Tau leads to degenerative changes in the brain, affects people’s personalities, and leads to confusion, memory loss, depression, lack in personal judgement, such as killing someone, and eventually dementia. Mr. McPhillips also revealed that 90 of the 94 brains donated to the BU CTE Research Center contained the Tau substance.
Mr. McPhillips made it clear that just because someone has CTE, that does not mean they would kill someone. “There is more research that needs to be done. Even if Hernandez does have CTE, you still do not know for sure whether that caused his actions or not,” said Mr. McPhillips.
While the right equipment in sports is essential, it does not mean an athlete will not get a concussion. Mr. McPhillips said, “Building up neck strength can help prevent a concussion, so that when you get hit your neck doesn’t bobble like a bobble head.”
“If you play after getting hit or having symptoms of a concussion, you can develop Second Impact Syndrome, which you can die from. That’s the worst thing you want to do. We can’t prevent a concussion, but we can prevent Second Impact Syndrome,” said Mr. McPhillips.
Students at DHS also reacted to the death of Aaron Hernandez. Junior Patrick M. said, “His suicide was sad because he had a lot of potential, although he was serving a life sentence. He was a good football player before and could have been so much better.”
Similarly, senior Aidan C. said, “I think it’s sad and even though he [Hernandez] was an alleged murderer, it is very sad that he died. I think that since the appeal wasn’t over, he technically wasn’t really a murderer.”
On the other hand, some students are skeptical about Hernandez. Junior Charlie G. said, “I’ve seen it on the news and it seems to me that everything makes sense now about the murder with his suicide.” Junior Graham S. said, “I know that he [Hernandez] was serving a life sentence and he was on trial for a double murder, which I don’t think he was innocent for.”