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The Lake News Online
  • Marc Munroe Dion: The demons haunting pro athletes

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  • I'll tell you one thing about the Aaron Hernandez trial. They need to pick me for the jury.
    I'm 56 years old and I've never been to a Patriots' game. I've been to one professional football game, in Kansas City, over 40 years ago. Until last week, I'd never heard of Aaron Hernandez, didn't know what position he played and didn't know what number he wore on his jersey. I now know that Hernandez plays "tight end." I still have no idea if that is an offensive or defensive position and I don't know what a "tight end" does on a football field.
    I'm not a sports fan, though I do like boxing. Still, I sometimes go months without watching a fight.
    To me, Aaron Hernandez is a guy who might have shot another guy.
    This is not an unfamiliar situation in Fall River, Mass., where guys shoot other guys with some regularity, usually over drugs, though sometimes over a woman.
    So, I see it for the first time on TV and I don't know Aaron Hernandez is "special," I don't know he's a professional athlete, so I figure this is just another cheap street shooting.
    Which it is.
    If you want to read some really bad writing, watch the sports pages in the next few weeks. Heck, watch the news pages, where columnists like me will produce stacks and stacks of words. We'll be told Hernandez was "troubled" and somewhere, some poor writer will type the phrases, "had it all" and "threw it all away." Look likewise for some bad writing about how Hernandez was "plagued" by "demons."  He may even have "fallen victim" to "substance abuse."
    Jeez, you can write this stuff with your brain in the "off" position, which is how much of it will be written. No thanks. I'll wait ‘till the rap song comes out.
    There's an endless appetite for this crap and the wonder is that the same words, arranged in the same way, sell to the same audience every time some over-moneyed ball-playin' boob does something stupid.
    If you're unemployed and dumb as a stump and you do something stupid on Fountain Street, you get three minutes on the TV news outta Providence and The Herald News will cover whatever trial they let you have and maybe, you'll get one 120-word story in one of the Boston papers.
    If you can catch a spiral on television for $40 million a year and you do something stupid, the ink will flow like Gatorade.
    And, if Hernandez is found guilty, in 10 years he'll get out and someone will ghost-write a book for him called "From the NFL to Hell," and he'll charge $2,000 to come to your kids' high school and tell his sad, sad story while slavering, glad-to-be-out-of-the-cold sportswriters sit in the bleachers and write the word "inspiring" in their notebooks over and over again.
    Page 2 of 2 - And what will your kids learn from Aaron's talk?
    They'll learn that, once you are a sports "star," nothing you do can make you not worth listening to. That celebrity lasts forever. You think that message will keep your kids off drugs?
    It won't. For the last 50 years, athletes have been "speaking out against drugs," and the whole idea that tight ends can get kids to not try drugs has turned out to be a huge, nearly comical flop.
    In this country, we stubbornly refuse to believe that the universe will give great athletic talent to a bad human being, a killer, a rapist, a drug user.
    Hand me a beer. Let's watch the game. I'll give you 3-to-1 that the guy playing right guard succumbs to the demons that plague him.
    Marc Munroe Dion is a columnist and reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass. Reach him at mdion@heraldnews.com.

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