No One Knows

Aaron Hernandez is under suspicion at the moment. But his whole life is still a mystery.
Share |

Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft has recently exposed himself as potentially prone to hyperbole. This is maybe something to bear in mind in recalling a story Kraft told a story about Aaron Hernandez from last August, after the young tight end received a hefty contract extension.

“[It was] one of the touching moments since I’ve owned the team—knowing that this is our charitable gala—Aaron came into my office, a little teary-eyed, and presented me with a check for $50,000 to go to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund,” Kraft said Monday night at the Patriots Charitable Foundation Kickoff Gala in Foxboro. “I said ‘Aaron, you don’t have to do this, you’ve already got your contract.’ And he said ‘No, it makes me feel good and I want to do it.’”

The entire article reads like a bad action movie straighten-up-and-fly-right monologue from a Michael Bay flick. It’s the type of thing that will inspire certain Boston-based keyboard-mashers to make gastrointestinal noises come out of their computers about morality—something about which they harbor no particular expertise beyond having watched large, wealthy men play games for 30-someodd years—and also the type of thing that will make some people downright sad. The article pinpoints various possibilities about how much Aaron Hernandez may have been struggling with getting out of his old world and how much he may have been struggling with who he is as a person, and perhaps most devastatingly highlights how much we simply don’t know about him, or any athlete.

“He changed my life. Now I’m able to basically have a good chance to be set for life, and have a good life,” Hernandez said of Kraft and his new contract. “I have a daughter on the way, I have a family that I love. It’s just knowing that they’re going to be OK. Because I was happy playing for my $250,000, $400,000 (salary). Knowing that my kids and my family will be able to have a good life, go to college, it’s just an honor that he did that for me. He gave me this opportunity.”

All of what Hernandez said there is true, and was probably true to him when he said it. What has happened since—over this last week of suspicion and revelation and intense but unproductive media scrutiny, all corrosive and ugly in their own various ways—has conspired to make it seem false. We still don’t really know anything about any of it.

***

The identity theorist Derek Parfit has posited that, at any given moment, we could become someone completely different and no one would ever have the slightest clue, because identity is completely internal. Even for identity theory, a field prone to primary assists from narcotics, Parfit’s is renowned as a particularly batshit theory. As I once explained in an undergrad philosophy course while the football players slept in the back of the room, although Parfit likely meant this literally, the most charitable interpretation of this is a little less strict, and gets at a much more pertinent question. Over the course of time, and sometimes a much shorter period of time than we like to admit, we can—and often do—become entirely different people. Our habits, mannerisms, personalities and viewpoints change entirely. What still makes you you? Or, more generally, what makes—and keeps—anyone anyone?

We have a flawed perspective of who athletes are, as you almost certainly know. We don’t know them as people, and you probably know this, too. They’re well-compensated Roman gods who trot onto a playing field every so often, perform physical feats the likes of which you and I and everyone else harbor no mental capacity even to envisage; we watch, and in so doing generate the revenue that pays them. And then they go home and we stop learning about them as people. This is an old and mostly successful way of doing this thing.

Lots of this is controlled. The leagues generally don’t want us to get to know their players—the labor and the product for sale—as people; the logic, maybe, being that the better we know them as humans the less inclined we might be to idolize and emulate and spend money on looking and acting exactly like them. (I tend to believe in the opposite theory: the more you can see someone’s flaws, the more you can appreciate their humanity, particularly when their strengths are other-worldly. But I also buy kickers’ and backup tight ends’ replica jerseys.)

Whatever the reasoning, the end result is that we never get to know athletes, really. We just think we do. We see them do a specific touchdown celebration where they make it rain and we think this provides some kind of insight into their personality. This is clearly a silly thing to think, but we think it because it’s the only evidence we have. Call this the under-the-lamppost bias: we look for evidence of who athletes are based on what we can actually observe, ignoring the fact that we can’t see 99.9 percent of what they do and who they are. We know their back-of-the-card facts and on-field tics and maybe some gilded, glossy profile anecdotes and believe we know them. This is flawed for a lot of reasons, but it may be flawed for a much more fundamental reason.

You may recall the instant you realized your favorite sport’s draft class was your age, you hurriedly wiped the Cheetos dust from your fingers and face, calculated you had accomplished comparatively little with your life and considered how you could fix that by the time the draft ended, only to recognize there was no such possible way and resumed eating your Cheetos. (You may have also tweeted about this early-life crisis, if it was recently enough.) As it turns out, Aaron Hernandez and I are both 23 years old. I spent the last year of my life trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be, in the most fundamental way.

This is not a novel thing for 23-year-olds to do, but it felt and maybe was significant, and was not easy. Aaron Hernandez, if only because he lived his 24th year on earth in public and on television, probably did not have that luxury. He was busy playing football, making lots of money doing so, starting a family, buying a house, tenuously being an adult. It takes time to learn who you are, and, through the College-NFL-Industrial Complex, Aaron Hernandez almost certainly did not have the time to reflect on that.

This doesn’t absolve Hernandez of any of the things he may or may not have done, or of which he has been kinda-sorta semi-accused. But it seems reasonable enough to acknowledge that the public and stunted and strange nature of his life might explain at least some of his decision-making.

***

I don’t know Aaron Hernandez, or what it’s like to be Aaron Hernandez. I can’t stress that enough. I’ve led a very different life than him, despite some coincidences. We are the same age, as you now know. I also grew up in Connecticut, but I grew up in Fairfield County, and he grew up in Bristol, two very different places. We have the same first names, but that’s a coincidence. All of it is a coincidence.

All of this is to say, for a bunch of happenstances of the universe, when he got drafted by my favorite team, I instantly felt an irrational connection to him. I wanted to pretend I knew him. But if in an alternate-universe sort of way, I had gotten drafted by the Patriots and Hernandez was sitting in a dorm room watching me celebrate, he would have been watching a young man who had no idea who he was, and probably would have found himself to be someone completely different two years later. This is just the way growing up works.

“I called [my family] and told them obviously what the contract was, and the basics about it. They were all crying; I was crying right with them. This is probably one of the best days of my life,” [Aaron Hernandez] said. “I’ll remember this day forever. I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, making the right decisions so I can have a good life, and be there to live a good life with my family.”

I have been following the recent news with much attentiveness—and trying not to get bummed about it because I don’t know Hernandez, and even if I did he’s not the one who’s dead. In doing that, I’ve been thinking repeatedly of Parfit’s theory; that we can turn into drastically different people and no one would ever notice. Is this Hernandez being someone completely different, or is this him being who he was all along? Did he simply always know the right things to say and do in front of the press, or was this truly a cruel misstep as he was trying to form a new life for himself in a well-to-do Massachusetts suburb, away from a difficult early life and old choices and everything else?

The important question, which might help sort all this out, is the unanswerable one: who is Aaron Hernandez? Is he the smiling, jovial tight end who donates to charities out of an inherent sense of duty and soul-deep gratitude? Is he the violent, bullying, conniving figure who has emerged in little ugly details over the last week? Or, and this seems maybe more likely, is he not quite anything yet, a person still trying to figure all that out?

I wish we had been right, and Hernandez was truly the grown man who wanted the new start. I hope we are still right, even as the circumstantial evidence mounts to the contrary. But it seems like Hernandez is stuck in a Parfit-esque void, an identity-less existence, still trying to figure out the person he really wants to be; some of this is him, and some of this is the age he is (we are) and most of it is unknowable. Most of all, because it’s actually something you and I can control, I wish we would stop guessing who these people we don’t know are. We know them as athletes, and nothing more. It’s not much. The rest, maybe, we don’t need to or want to or could ever really know.


Share |

Comments

Wow! Such an amazing and helpful post this is. I really really love it. It's so good and so awesome. I am just amazed. I hope that you continue to do your work like this in the future also. Dak reparatie

" To provide SEO services in the Weston Fl area with software programs and search engine optimization services to everyone by relentlessly innovating to give our Weston SEO customers the edge in competing in the ever changing Internet marketing arena.

We pair on-site optimization with off-site tactics to create strategies that are effective and won’t lose value over time. Through our website audits, comprehensive keyword research, carefully crafted content strategies and ability to connect the dots with the online spaces that SEO Weston FL customers inhabit, our suite of services are second to none. Every day, millions will use search engines to find products or services. 90% of those people will click links on the first page of the search results." Website SEO

Superbly written article. if only all bloggers offered the same content as you. the internet would be a far better place.. visit my site

Wow. This is some thing very amazing. I was in search of such a beautiful writing. Awesome plot and ends very in very simple way. Thank you.
lam phim quang cao

This is best post I have ever seen .Very clear and simple. Mid portion Is quite interesting though. Keep doing this. I will visit your site again..!!
vietnam video production company

you don’t have to do this, you’ve already got your contract.’ And he said ‘No, it makes me feel good and I want to do it.’ Ranking Chwilówek 2017

دانلود قسمت 11 یازدهم سریال عاشقانه رایگان, دانلود رایگان سریال عاشقانه, دانلود سریال جدید عاشقانه ایرانی دانلود سریال عاشقانه با لینک مستقیم, دانلود فیلم های جدید و برتر, دانلود رایگان فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم
دانلود قسمت 11 یازدهم سریال عاشقانه رایگان

Positive webpage, where did u think of the data on this posting?I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style. You're the best and please keep up the compelling work. http://www.startup.org.sg/martin-modern-first-bedok-land-river-valley/

I wish more writers of this sort of substance would take the time you did to explore and compose so well. I am exceptionally awed with your vision and knowledge. steroid alternatives

Positive site, where did u concoct the data on this posting? I'm satisfied I found it however, sick be inquiring soon to figure out what extra posts you incorporate. male enhancement pills that work fast

What is certain is that its large fan base is on pins and needles waiting for the sequel of Log Horizon to come out. We have come across numerous comments online stating how much they want to watch the third season and inquiring about when it will be released. Log Horizon 3

I high welcome this post. It's elusive the great from the terrible here and there, yet I think you've nailed it! would you psyche upgrading your online journal with more data? internet TV

who he is as a person, and perhaps most devastatingly highlights how much we simply don’t know about him, or any athlete. internet tv

Kindly fill me in as to whether you're searching for an article essayist for your site. You have some truly extraordinary posts and I feel I would be a decent resource. On the off chance that you ever need to take a percentage of the heap off, I'd totally love to compose some material for your web journal in return for a connection back to mine. It would be ideal if you send me an email if intrigued. Much obliged to you! BetCrazy

I can set up my new thought from this post. It gives inside and out data. A debt of gratitude is in order for this profitable data for all,.. 2018 Supra

but unproductive media scrutiny, all corrosive and ugly in their own various ways—has conspired to make it seem false. We still don’t really know anything about any of it.class new notary public York

Really i am awed from this post....the individual who make this post it was an extraordinary human..thanks for imparted this to us.

See more

"If we are talking about the latest craze all over the world, what you are going to say? Fidget Spinner and Fidget Toy? Yes! Oh well, you can't believe it. In just 2 months, it has craze the world! First, you can see these Fidget Spinners everywhere with kids and teens in every classroom and school. Shortly they quickly invaded offices and became the favorite hand toys of adults.

Brands and Businesses are quickly catching up this new hot trend for their marketing purposes, like event promotions, conference gifts, corporate gifts, trade show giveaways, promotional gift items with those customized, logo Fidget Spinners as the best promotional products today!" Promo Fidget Spinner

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article.!
Valet Parking Companies Los Angeles

Just admiring your work and wondering how you managed this blog so well. It’s so remarkable that I can't afford to not go through this valuable information whenever I surf the internet!
Valet Parking Companies Los Angeles

It�s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content.
dicas de viagem

A very good and informative article indeed . It helps me a lot to enhance my knowledge, I really like the way the writer presented his views. I hope to see more informative and useful articles in future.
plumbing companies

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article.!
plumbing companies

Hello, Neat post. There’s an issue together with your web site in web explorer, might check this? IE still is the marketplace leader and a large portion of folks will pass over your magnificent writing due to this problem.
plumbing companies

A debt of gratitude is in order for giving late reports with respect to the worry, I anticipate read more.
ganhar dinheiro na internet

Hello, I discover perusing this article a delight. It is to a great degree supportive and fascinating and all that much anticipating perusing a greater amount of your work.. Martin Modern City Condo

Really i am awed from this post....the individual who make this post it was an extraordinary human..thanks for imparted this to us. VR facesitting

This sort of message continually moving and I want to peruse quality substance, so glad to discover great spot to numerous here in the post, the composition is simply awesome, a debt of gratitude is in order for the post. phen375 where to buy

Extraordinary data! I as of late went over your online journal and have been perusing along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don't recognize what to say aside from that I have. Montville

Much obliged to you for setting aside an ideal opportunity to distribute this data extremely valuable! ticketcharge

Pleasant post mate, keep up the colossal work, simply imparted this to my friendz voyance par telephone

We know their back-of-the-card facts and on-field tics and maybe some gilded, glossy profile anecdotes and believe we know them. This is flawed for a lot of reasons, but it may be flawed for a much more fundamental reason.chess sets for schools

I discovered your this post while hunting down some related data on site search...Its a decent post..keep posting and upgrade the data. italian mens fashion

Your knowledge of this subject comes through clearly in this article. I love to read this kind of articles, I hope you will update it. Thank you for sharing it with me. italy handbags

Galore fill turn out to be defrayal too more money buying one-way link or remunerative for hyperlink commercial enterprise services. Buy low obl backlinks | High quality link building service

As the power of PageRank is getting lower, flow metrics matter. Google gives a huge importance to metrics like domain authority, trust flow or citation flow as a ranking factor. high trust flow backlinks

The data you have posted is exceptionally helpful. The locales you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing... Male Extra reviews

they are compact and potable. you can store loads and heaps of ebook in a single small tool. furthermore, e-e-books are normally smaller and lighter than paper ebooks. download free pdf books

with who he is as a person, and perhaps most devastatingly highlights how much we simply don’t know about him, or any athlete. como fazer uma skin no kogama

Much obliged to you for some other educational site. The spot else might just I understand that sort of data written in such a flawless technique? I have an endeavor that I am essentially now running on, and I"ve been at the look out for such information. tom

More often than not I don't make remarks on sites, yet I'd like to say this article truly constrained me to do as such. Truly pleasant post! noocube reviews

An fascinating discussion is value comment. I think that it is best to write extra on this matter, it won’t be a taboo topic however generally people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers Marine Muscle Results

I might want to say this online journal truly persuaded me to do it! Much obliged, great post. casinojackpotslots

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing us. crazy bulk review

he is as a person, and perhaps most devastatingly highlights how much we simply don’t know about him, or any athlete.Netflix

I might want to say this online journal truly persuaded me to do it! Much obliged, great post. ultimatenutritionz

a debt of gratitude is in order for the tips and information..i truly welcome it.. women's health

This article is an engaging abundance of instructive information that is fascinating and elegantly composed. I recognize your diligent work on this and thank you for this data. You have what it takes to get consideration. mens health

I am happy you take pride in what you compose. This makes you stand way out from numerous different scholars that push ineffectively composed substance. top diet pills

That is certainly on top of that a superb send i always basically liked mastering. It may not be everyday that any of us store the chance to determine the one thing. sarah morrow