By Lynn Saternow
Herald/Allied News Sports Editor
THE UNBELIEVABLE saga of pro football player Aaron Hernandez being accused of a gruesome murder of his friend makes you wonder what kind of background checks the NFL does on potential players.
Or do they even care?
Evidence is supposedly pretty strong against Hernandez in the murder of his friend Odin Lloyd. (With friends like that, who needs enemies?)
And the evidence must be strong because unlike many times when a team says it will wait until a player is proven guilty or innocent to make a move, the New England Patriots immediately cut the tight end who is one of the best at his position in the entire league.
Every year we see players who were troublesome in high school or college get into the NFL, declaring that they have cleaned up their acts. Yet down the road, something happens.
While obviously many of the incidents don’t involve murder, there are other crimes that occur. Or there are very bad decisions.
It was disappointing for everyone to hear about the stabbing of Farrell native Mike Adams, an offensive lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Adams, a former Ohio State star who convinced the Steelers to draft him despite reportedly testing positive for marijuana just before the NFL combine, was injured in a robbery attempt.
Being assaulted in a robbery isn’t his fault. But the problem was that it was in the wee hours of the morning when he shouldn’t have been in that kind of situation.
Sometimes bad choices affect these pro athletes. Hopefully, Adams will fully recover and become a key member of the Steelers offensive line again. But it’s not likely that another problem involving him will be overlooked so he has to really prove himself again.
Part of the problem with athletes is their egos, which are big to say the least. They seem to feel they can do anything they want to do.
That’s why you see them being busted for drunk driving – when they easily could hire a designated driver – or getting in trouble in nightclubs at an hour when they shouldn’t be there.
That’s why you see a Ben Roethlisberger riding a motorcycle without a helmet or a Plaxico Burress carrying a gun into a New York City nightclub and shooting himself in the leg.
Part of the problem for some is their upbringing. Some of these athletes come from poverty and instant money can bring instant trouble. Others grew up in bad home situations or were involved in gangs.
I’ll have a story soon on former Sharon High star Marlin Jackson, who overcame a less-than-stellar home life as a kid to become a star NFL player and a stand-up family guy who today works hard to help young people through his foundation.
Those are the kinds of stories that we need more of, rather than stories of someone like Aaron Hernandez who apparently has thrown away everything and may be headed for life in prison.
You would hope that every young athlete will read the story about Hernandez and the consequences of not following rules. But we all know that won’t happen.
Egos are too big for that.