Like every report involving Aaron Hernandez, it is disturbing. Researchers at the CTE Center at Boston University say that Hernandez had severe CTE, stage 3 out of 4. Jose Baez, the family’s attorney, said that “we’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age.”
This news comes as part of the announcement that Hernandez’s family is suing the league and the Patriots for failing to disclose the true dangers of the sport.
The fact that he had CTE isn’t surprising, the fact that he had stage 3 CTE after just 44 NFL games is. Especially when it’s the kind of damage that researchers would’ve expected in a 67-year-old and Hernandez was 27-years old. That’s not a great look for the NFL. Any news involving CTE is bad for the NFL. Just like any news involving Aaron Hernandez is bad for the NFL. So news that links CTE and Aaron Hernandez is particularly unpleasant. Especially when you consider that he had not played in the NFL for that long.
Of course that would mean that the CTE damage didn’t necessarily come from the NFL, but from college, high school, and youth football. Which isn’t great for the sport of football in general. But let’s not get it twisted.
That doesn’t mean that CTE was the reason he killed people. Not at all. CTE has never been proven to lead someone to commit murder. Suicide, aggression, and memory loss, yes. But not murder.
Is CTE an excuse for what he did? Definitely not. CTE didn’t make him drive Odin Lloyd to an industrial park and shoot him six times. Aaron Hernandez did that. Is it an explanation? Maybe. I don’t know. We’ll never know. Because it’s clear that Hernandez was going down a dark path even before he reached the NFL. He was already punching bartenders at 17, well before he reached the NFL.
In all likelihood, the family doesn’t stand much of a chance of winning this case. But the fact that it even exists and that it’s in the media, is less than ideal for the NFL. A 67-year-old brain in the body of a guy who was 23 when he was arrested? It’s just one guy, one very bad guy, and again, that doesn’t mean CTE is why he murdered at least one person, but the NFL never wants its name to be mentioned with brain damage or murder, and it’s getting mentioned with both.