---- — It is my favorite part of Mike Muldoon’s annual “Oath to parents, coaches and athletes” that runs just before every new high school season in the fall.
The first four paragraphs:
Teachers, coaches, parents, classmates and entire towns do a tremendous disservice by giving a star athlete special treatment.
True story. After playing big-time college football, the most popular, best-looking kid in my high school class turned into a drug addict who robbed the unsuspecting, aging parents of his friends and lived under a bridge.
I always wondered if his receiving kid-glove treatment due to his athletic prowess was the reason.
If the kid deserves to be failed, fail him. If he deserves to be suspended, suspend him. If he deserves to be arrested, arrest him.
Here’s a hunch. If the some of people in Aaron Hernandez’s life had listened to the opening stanzas of Muldoon's popular column, he might be a real, honest-to-goodness man and citizen.
Instead, because of his incredible, God-given athletic talent, he was given what seems to be an infinite number of passes ... or get-out-of-jail free passes.
Well, those passes have run dry. An athlete of Hernandez’s caliber — he recently signed a $40 million deal — can get away with just about every crime known to man. Except murder.
We are going to get Hernandez’s life story soon. And the early reports are that it wasn’t easy. His father died when he was 16, and he had been teetering on the “wrong side” for most of his teen years and even into his 20s.
Guns appear to have been a part of his life since the latter stages of his high school years and then in college, including his being questioned during a much-publicized incident when he was a freshman at the University of Florida when a man was critically wounded in the head. He was also reportedly arrested as a freshman at Florida.
Other Hernandez issues have popped up, including the claims he shot a friend in the face — the guy lost his eye — in the back seat of a car. Of course, when Hernandez was a star player who liked to travel with a gun, the guy who took the bullet refused to tell the police about Hernandez’s alleged assault.
Now there are other Boston-area murders that Hernandez’s name is being connected to, not to mention a pair of shootings in Providence in May and June.
But while everybody knew about red flags of Hernandez’s character in high school and college, causing a first-round talent to slide to the fourth round, why wasn’t he locked up for six months or even a year for illegal gun possession?
Why did everybody, including a lot of lawyers, judges, high school principals, athletic directors and coaches, let this guy’s dangerous tendencies pick up steam every year of adulthood?
When ex-Celtic Chris Herren was speaking at Haverhill High about his obsession with drugs from the latter stages of high school and through much of his professional career, he recalled too many people along the way giving him a free pass.
”It’s wrong,” said Herren. “I should have been punished harshly early on. Maybe I would have understood. Maybe if I’m suspended and I don’t get to play, maybe I get the message.”
Instead of letting these guys regularly circumvent the law and yet still play in the big game, do as Muldoon said: Fail them, suspend them or arrest them.
And then, maybe, just maybe, these supremely talented and gifted individuals could help and even inspire others instead of killing them.
You can email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.