Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NFL is reportedly considering revoking
invitations to the scouting combine for certain players who are ruled
academically ineligible in college.
A league source floated that specious plan to CBSSports.com in an effort to
take the temperature of a public which has been inundated with a negative
narrative surrounding the league since Aaron Hernandez's arrest on murder
Hernandez's name was, of course, never mentioned when discussing the potential
policy shift but the theory behind such a move is to put a higher threshold on
things like maturity and commitment, as if there is some kind of litmus test
which could have foreshadowed a potential ticking time bomb like the ex-
Patriots tight end.
Things like education, maturity and commitment certainly are valuable tools
that can help people avoid numerous pitfalls in life, including descending
into a life of crime. That said, none of those attributes are guarantees and
there have been plenty of highly-educated, motivated people who have committed
acts of great violence.
By all accounts Hernandez was an extremely committed football player but an
immature person, never able to rid himself of the bad influences he cultivated
in Connecticut as a youth long before Urban Meyer got a hold of him at the
University of Florida.
Unless Hernandez comes clean at some point all of us are just speculating when
discussing his downfall. To me, his story points directly to accountability,
"Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida,
myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible," Meyer, who is now the coach
at Ohio State, texted the Columbus Dispatch on Saturday, finally breaking his
silence on Hernandez.
Perhaps but there were incidents with the Gators that were never addressed and
it's conceivable Hernandez developed an "everything works out for me-
mentality" in Gainesville.
His marijuana use at Florida has been well-documented and the local police
recently released a 2007 incident report from a double shooting in which
multiple Gators players, including a 17-year-old Hernandez, were questioned.
Two men were wounded in that attack, including one who was shot in the back of
the head. The police report stated that the victims were shot inside a car and
an eyewitness claimed there were two shooters, including a "Hawaiian" or
"Hispanic" man with a muscular build and "a lot of tattoos."
Certainly no clear evidence of Hernandez's guilt but his name was redacted in
the report and it certainly reeks of what is quickly turning out to be an all
too familiar pattern.
Saying Hernandez's behavior should have been addressed in a more serous
fashion at Florida could be Meyer's and the football program's fault but it
could also run far deeper than that, almost an institutional or systemic
problem which pervades our society.
Football is king in this country. In virtually every major city this fall you
we be able to feel the mood of the people shift on Mondays based on whether
the local team wins or loses 24 hours earlier.
It's almost a sickness and for the most part a harmless one until it morphs a
kid who was heading down the wrong path into a potential character on HBO's Oz
who could have made Vern Schillinger look cuddly in comparison.
We put football players on a pedestal and it starts in high school,
exacerbates itself in college, and culminates in the misguided hero-worship
of young men in their early 20s when they hit the pros.
According to the CBS source, a sizable group of players would not have been
invited to Indianapolis for the combine this past February if the potential
new format was in place. A fact which actually highlights just how meaningless
a policy like this would be.
Wait five years and hindsight will prove that the vast majority of players who
attended the scouting combine in 2013 will live their lives and not get into
any kind of trouble, including the "academically ineligible" ones.
In any high-profile legal case, people clamor for answers, even more so than
closure. They rarely get it, though.
Did Casey Anthony really murder her baby? Did George Zimmerman kill Trayvon
Martin because he was a racist who saw a young black man in a hoodie?
Was being a gangsta' really more important for Hernandez than basking in the
unadulterated hero-worship his job provided?
There are no easy answers here and a public relations-fueled shift by the NFL
offers nothing other than plausible deniability for the next scandal.
The Sports Network