Whether purely coincidental or overtly connected, intersecting events on a timeline can suspiciously and conveniently collide in ways that can make us stop and wonder. Irony we call it, can stop us dead in our tracks because it just seems too imperfectly perfect to be possible. What I noticed this week is that while irony can often be humorous, or at the very least funny to an outside observer, it can also be a completely cruel reminder of just how f*cked up things can get. Aaron Hernandez was a star player on every level of football he played. He was a success story beginning with his time as a standout high school tight end in Connecticut to a flashy college champion at the University of Florida, and eventually a key member of a Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots team in the NFL. With his fiancee by his side and a kid on the way, his life was reaching the highest of highs until all of a sudden…it hit the lowest of lows.
Following his arrest for the 2013 murder of acquaintance Odin Lloyd, Hernandez was immediately released by the Patriots. Just like that, his career was over. He was then convicted in 2015 of first degree murder for the slaying of Lloyd and sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole. Just like that, his freedom was over. Meanwhile another charge was levied upon Hernandez (a double-murder accusation) for which he was tried while serving his jail time for the Lloyd murder conviction. Then on April 14th of this year Hernandez was acquitted of the double-murder charge. Perhaps this was a bit of a silver lining for Hernandez during an otherwise tumultuous and tragic saga, but surely of no solace to his family or (more importantly) the victims’ families. The acquittal would do nothing to stem his lifelong prison sentence, an appropriate fate for his crimes. But then this past week Aaron Hernandez took the coward’s way out. He hung himself in his jail cell. An ending seemingly far too generous for a cold-blooded murderer, but in a stunning twist of irony his death came on the same day his old Patriots teammates were scheduled to visit the White House for the customary congratulatory celebration of their 2017 Super Bowl victory. The circumstances couldn’t be more blatantly juxtaposed against one another. The irony couldn’t be more cruel.