photo manipulation by nacrowe
i remember back in 2011 i was dominating my fantasy football league because of this surprise tight end on the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS was dominating the NFL. that tight end was AARON HERNANDEZ. my thought process was basically that quarterback TOM BRADY was so efficient that all of his possible receivers would have inflated stats and as it turned out i was correct. the other tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI was a high pick in every draft but HERNANDEZ was a sleeper. the next year i chose him again when oddly partway through the season he stopped because he was being investigated in a homicide. jokingly i remember complaining that of course this happens to my team, but quickly i realized that most in my position in all likelihood did not share my healthy distance from my own competitive self-interests.
i think one of the key components that make KILLER INSIDE: THE MIND OF AARON HERNANDEZ (NETFLIX, 2020) such a deeply distubing documentary is the culpability of all of us in this game that literally grinds up men and chews them out as broken shadows of their former selves. to me that was the bottom line as told through the story of a deeply troubled player with questionable morals that succeeded and was given no guardrails or boundaries due to his athletic prowess and our collective cult-like adoration to modern athletes.
this devotion is hollow in that none of us truly care about these players once they leave the field of play. think about that for a minute. we use these men.
HERNANDEZ throughout the 3-hour, 3-part documentary is shown to be a freak athlete who suffered through family chaos, repressed sexuality and a diminished control over his emotions that was almost certainly a result of CTE due to concussions going back to high school. this is not to say that the film offers him excuses for his actions, it doesnt. its conceit is that he had agency and made terrible choices based on a myriad of underlying issues that complicated his sense of identity and position in society. the murders he was accused of conducting were heinous and senseless and beyond tragic, as those he lashed out against were normal working-class people unassociated with any underworld connections.
you just get the feeling that this guy needed help at every stage in his development and all anyone saw in him was dollar signs. as consumers we are all implicated in the bloodsport that is AMERICAN football and the NCAA and the NFL are both hollow organizations that cater to this impulse for violence. at some point we have to come to terms with the sport and the wake of human wreckage it leaves behind. notwithstanding is the equally brutal, almost spartan, connotations it provides in celebrating a particular strain of toxic masculinity to the youth that isn't representative, fair or healthy.
real bravery is living your truth and taking responsibility for your actions. not violence. the NFL is a scourge on our society. they know they profit from and celebrate human carnage. can't help but muse over the spiraling lasting societal effects of a generation of athletes dealing with undiagnosable traumatic brain injuries. the effects on their wives, husbands, children, siblings, parents and loved ones.
powerful film well worth investigating. highly recommended.