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I Binged the Aaron Hernandez Documentary, And It’s Impossible to Love
AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool

The life of Aaron Hernandez was complicated. The former New England Patriots tight end was a superstar on the field, but very troubled away from it. Nobody truly knows what he did, or what he went through, until it was too late.

Hernandez, the former University of Florida Gators and NFL star, was found guilty of first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd and was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole back in 2015. Then, after he was acquitted of a double murder in 2017, he was found dead in his prison cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center an hour away from Boston, Massachusetts. The 27-year-old’s death was ruled a suicide.

Earlier this week, Netflix released a three-part documentary series called, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.” The official teaser and trailer for the docuseries are very chilling, too.

For some reason, though, and for as much hype as it has received, it’s impossible to love after binge-watching it.

Aaron Hernandez Documentary Reaction

According to Netflix, the sports documentary from the same studio as Making a Murderer and Evil Genius would dive deep into the life of Hernandez, a former high school phenom and fourth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

“Via interviews with friends, players and insiders, this docuseries examines how Aaron Hernandez went from an NFL star to a convicted killer,” the description reads.

This is all true. From growing up in Bristol, Connecticut until his death, and everything in-between, this is definitely one of those must-see true crime TV shows, for better or worse.

In many ways, the story of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is sad. The star NFL player was catching touchdown passes from Tom Brady, played in a Super Bowl alongside Rob Gronkowski, and even signed a massive five-year contract worth $40 million. Then, it all went away.

There were some very compelling interviews throughout the three-plus hour docuseries. Kevin Armstrong and Yahoo Sports reporter Dan Wetzel, especially, were phenomenal. Odin Llloyd’s former teammate Mike Massey was superb. So was childhood friend Stephen Ziogas. Adding former Patriots players and those involved in the murder trials, including attorney Jose Baez, were a great touch, too.

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The phone calls from prison, especially with fiancee Shayanna Jenkins, created such an eerie vibe from start to finish. They were essential in making it all work.

What makes it impossible to love is not how the documentary was made or the story it told. Those are incredibly hard things to do, especially diving into his sexual orientation and sexual relationships, including with former high school teammate Dennis SanSoucie, a dude who loves the glory days and claims he experimented with Hernandez when they were teenagers.

It’s hard to knock the work that was put into making such an interesting show.

At the end of the day, what’s impossible to love about this show is, essentially, Hernandez himself.

The former football player had some serious issues. Sure, concussions and the later-discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy — commonly known as CTE — in his brain could point to some of the problems, but it extends well beyond that.

Hernandez had a great support system at an early age in Bristol. He definitely had them around the murder trials, too, most notably cousin Tanya Singleton, who refused to testify, and Jenkins. Yet, he still made horrendous decisions. He loved to party, do drugs, and ran with the wrong crowd.

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The murder of Odin Lloyd, and the double murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, are still not known in totality, but the fact they link back to Hernandez in some way, shape, or form will forever be eye-opening.

How did nobody see this coming? Hernandez essentially ran away to college after his father passed away, got in trouble at Florida (which, like most college towns with star athletes, got swept under the rug), went to perhaps the best team in the worst location possible for him in the NFL, and this was the result.

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Aaron Hernandez made horrendous life decisions every step of the way. He became a terrible person, intentionally or not. Maybe there was no way to help him, that this was going to be the result, no matter what.

Breaking down the Hernandez story is as complicated as the story itself. The Netflix documentary did what it could to cover it all, and shared some light on details nobody has seen or heard before. That was all solid.

Who Aaron Hernandez was, who he became, what his legacy will be, should have no sympathy, though. That ultimately makes anything about him compelling and tragic, but, for many, it falls on deaf ears.

MORE: Aaron Hernandez: The Superstar and Dangerous Villain Florida Never Expected

Author placeholder image About the author:
With over 10 years of sports writing experience, Brett has covered some of the top local, regional, and national sporting events in the Heartland for both print and digital platforms. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and resides in Austin, Texas.
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