By the time the New England Patriots got to the White House to be honored for their Super Bowl triumph, they had suffered another loss. A former teammate, tight end Aaron Hernandez, reportedly committed suicide in the Massachusetts prison where he was serving a life sentence for murder.
As life continues to reward the Patriots, it ebbed from Hernandez. Authorities said he hung himself with a bedsheet. The Patriots had very little to say officially.
The Patriots’ contingent was the first sports team invited to the White House under President Donald J. Trump; turnout was middling. There were 68 players from the active roster, practice squad and injured reserve invited; 34 accepted. Tom Brady sent his regrets but said he had “personal family matters” to handle. Four others said they were staying away because of Trump’s policies and politics.
Don’t get outraged – that happens all the time. When President Barack Obama welcomed the 1972 Miami Dolphins to the White House in 2013, three stayed away, citing their dislike of Obama. Brady was also a no-show in 2015, without stating a political reason. Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk skipped the trip in 2013, citing his objection to Obama’s policies.
Only six of the current players had played with Hernandez, so it’s not as if his death necessarily impacted them personally. But it again brought to the forefront the story of someone with a certain skill set and earning potential who threw it away with acts of violence, the last directed at himself.
The Patriots came back from the longest of odds when they rallied from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl LI. Hernandez never fully overcame the odds he faced and the obstacles placed in his path, too often by his own hand.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman