Hey all. Gerry Boyle here, in Maine, AKA Patriots country. And it hasn’t been a good couple of weeks.
I’m talking, of course, about Aaron Hernandez, the former Patriots tight end and future of the franchise (well, at least a big piece of it). Hernandez, as you know even if you’re not a Pats fan, is the 23-year-old NFL star who traded his million-dollar house for a cell smaller than one of his walk-in closets. He’s accused of orchestrating the execution of Odin Lloyd, a friend who investigators say got on Hernandez’s bad side. What did that get him? Five point-blank shots from a .45.
Goodbye $40 million contract. Hello Cedar Junction.
I’ve been thinking about Hernandez a lot, and not just because I’m a Patriots supporter. I’ve been thinking about him a lot because, like the others on this page, part of my job is to invent believable criminals and sensible, albeit evil, crimes. And this one makes no sense.
I once was advised to write a mystery novel revolving around professional sports. I didn’t, but if I had, it wouldn’t have been the Aaron Hernandez story. Because this crime, if it’s anything like investigators portray it, is unbelievably dumb. And who wants to read a novel about a dumb crime and a dumber criminal.
Call a guy and say you need to talk to him. Recruit two henchmen from out of state to come along. Pick the guy up at his house in Boston, let him text on the ride so he can tell his sister who he’s with. Drive him all the way to your own house and kill him just down the road. And your attempt at covering your tracks involves smashing your cell phone and destroying the surveillance video for the time in question. But not enough of it to keep cops from seeing you returning to your house with a gun in your hand.
Hernandez defense lawyers are going to earn their money.
So is this sad and sordid story the stuff of a crime novel? I don’t think so, unless there’s a twist or two or three that we haven’t yet seen. Crime novels should be challenging–for the readers, for the investigators, for the writer. A perplexing crime. A clever criminal. A taxing investigation. A solution that defies prediction–until it all becomes clear. Dumb criminals are all around us (read the news) but smart criminals are a rarer breed. And fictional criminals need to be even smarter.
So I’m not clipping Aaron Hernandez stories, or emailing them to my “interesting crimes” box. I’m just reading and shaking my head and asking, “how could I guy be this stupid?” Maybe he isn’t. And maybe that will be the twist.
As a Pats fan, I can still hope.
Don’t forget the video of him buying the gum, and wads of it with his DNA in the rental car. Rented in his name. Returned with shell casings still in the car?? Destroyed the surveillance video at his home, not thinking that of course it has to be transmitted off-site or what good is it? Any burglar can smash the in-house systems. And turning a smashed cell phone over to the police? Seriously? Maybe he doesn’t have time to watch CSI.
Fortunately for the justice system, most criminals are dumb. Fortunately for crime writers,, some are not.
I recently finished a book about some of those golden boy, high school athletes, and how they get hall passes on bad behavior because of their athletic prowess. In some ways, athletic programs, and sports fans are complicit in making these creatures and allowing them to believe they aren’t accountable.
Good post, Gerry. You so often write about what the rest of us are thinking.
One explanation is that he thought none of the rules applied to him, Kate. And you’re right about our sports idols being our own creations.
Another theory: that deep down, I mean way deep, he doesn’t believe he deserves all of this success. Hence the self-destructive behaviors. A big part of him wants to throw it all away. Arm chair psychology, but we do a lot of that in this business.
I can’t find the link now, but earlier today USAToday had a link to a news story about 40 players at Florida State who had been arrested at one time or another. Then there’s the Incarce-Gators team at this link
The upshot is that there is a very unhealthy mentality surrounding star athletes at ALL levels. I have kids at the library tell me about getting bullied by jocks at the local high school and administration staff looking the other way.