Even with only obstruction of justice charge, Hernandez faces real problems at work

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Thirteen years ago, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis faced double murder charges in Atlanta.  Eventually, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, with an agreement to testify against other defendants.  No one was convicted of the killings.

While Lewis avoided the far more serious crime, the NFL still fined Lewis $250,000 for his role in, as prosecutors have described such cases, kicking dirt in the eyes of the authorities.  If that’s the only charge prosecutors in Boston ever are able to pin on Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, either by guilty plea or through the introduction of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, Hernandez can count on an even stiffer sanction from the league office than the Lewis penalty.

Six years ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell overhauled the personal-conduct policy, expanding its reach and enhancing its penalties.  Since then, Goodell has shown a willingness to take swift and decisive action against players who violate it.  Pacman Jones received a one-year suspension despite never going to jail for any of his various legal entanglements at the NFL level.  Ben Roethlisberger received a six-game suspension (reduced to four) despite never even being arrested.  And the NFL indefinitely suspended Mike Vick the moment he was indicted for charges of dogfighting and gambling.

For Hernandez, the clearest apples-to-apples comparison comes from the cases of Leonard Little and Donte’ Stallworth.  Both caused a death while driving drunk.  Little was suspended eight games by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue in 1999.  Stallworth received a full year from Goodell in 2009.

From Hernandez’s perspective, that formula would result in a fine of $500,000, if he pleads guilty to obstruction of justice.  We’ve got a feeling, based on Goodell’s history of imposing discipline for off-field misbehavior, that won’t happen.

Based on reports from ABC and FOX 25 in Boston, police believe Hernandez deliberately destroyed (or at least tried to destroy) electronic evidence that would likely help solve the question of who killed Odin Lloyd.  Goodell won’t react kindly to NFL players attempting so brazenly to prevent justice from being done, especially when “justice” entails finding a murderer.  If Roethlisberger was suspended four games for being sued for sexual assault in Nevada and accused of another in Georgia despite never being arrested or charged, Hernandez could be in line for something like that or worse if he ultimately admits or is convicted of attempting to cover up a murder.

It gets far worse for Hernandez if he’s charged with murder.  Or if the NFL, through the in-house police force known as NFL Security, determines that he did it.  There’s no “if it doesn’t fit you must acquit” in the Court of the Commissioner.  He remains, under the personal-conduct policy, the judge, jury, executioner, appeals court, and governor.  And while the bounty case proved that diligent, aggressive lawyering could force Goodell to bump the appeal to his more lenient predecessor, Goodell and company surely learned from that experience how to avoid creating evidence that could be used to undermine his perceived neutrality.

So, basically, Hernandez is likely looking at a suspension if obstruction of justice sticks.  If the NFL decides he did more than merely help cover things up, Hernandez may be gone from the game for a long time.

The more immediate question becomes whether the league and the Patriots will allow Hernandez to show up for training camp if the situation remains unresolved.  The NFL and the Cowboys have managed to keep defensive tackle Josh Brent at a distance while he prepares for a September 2013 trial in the DUI death of Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown.  Look for the league and the Pats to finesse a similar outcome that would keep Hernandez from being a far bigger distraction than the player the Patriots signed only 10 days ago.

UPDATE 10:42 a.m. ET:  This item was based on multiple reports than arrest warrant has been issued for Hernandez, and that he will be charged with obstruction of justice.  The Boston Globe has since reported that no arrest warrant has been issued.

91 responses to “Even with only obstruction of justice charge, Hernandez faces real problems at work

  1. If he’s innocent, he’s doing a real poor job of posturing that position. Trying to be objective, and give due process a chance, but the more the facts come out, coupled with the silence from him and his lawyer, the more guilty that he appears.

  2. I don’t know…are you sure they frown on this?
    Oh he doesn’t work for the Irish mob? Nevermind…yeah they aren’t going to like this.

  3. Here is where we will see how fair and consistent Godel and the NFL office is. Out in football land the view is Godel does not touch NE for some reason.

  4. Even if he’s not convicted, he’s clearly involved in some terrible things and multiple years seems justified. I dont know how any fan (or human being) can root for this turd.

  5. He should be gone for a long time and deservedly so. Just like Lewis and his disappearing white suit.

  6. Pretty good write up from Florio here. I’m a Pats fan and don’t disagree with anything that was said. Waiting for due process to take it’s course, but already mentally accepted the fact that the Pats will have to try to win the Super Bowl without this guy going forward.

  7. The Patriots could cut Hernandez and void the rest of his deal (including the guaranteed money) if they wanted to. According to other reports when they did Hernandez’s contract they protected themselves in case Hernandez screwed up. Apparently they barred him from entering Gillette stadium yesterday and that shows how the Patriots feel about the situation at this time.

    He’s not playing football this year. And he’s probably never playing football again.I doubt he’ll be anywhere near the Patriots when training camp arrives.

  8. You know what the saddest part is all of this is? It’s that the losers on this site that make it seem as this is Karma for a sports team “allegedly” taping an oponents practices. A young man dies and that’s the first reaction you fools have?


  9. Roethlisberger got a 6 week suspension, eventually reduced to 4. He never got charged or arrested. They were just accusations. So, what should the Hernandez suspension be? RG better punish this guy good……real good.

  10. Imagine if Goodell was commish while Ray Lewis was doing his court dance…..only wish. No crazy dance no tears no Lombardi’s …oh well karma has patience.

  11. No mention that the Pats turned him away from the stadium the other day? If they won’t even let him work out, why would they let him come to training camp?

    This guy might be a Patriot right now, but $100 says he won’t be one for long.

    Thank god Bill picked up Jake Ballard. So much for that being a stab at the Giants. The guy knows what he’s doing.

  12. Obstruction is just the first step. That one is close to obvious. He was with the triggerman if he wasn’t that person. This turd is in deep doo-doo.

  13. It remains mind-boggling to me that Ray Lewis was fined $250K for obstruction of justice in a homicide case, and Bill Belichick was fined $500K for continuing to do something 32 teams had been doing prior to the memo banning it, as Jimmy Johnson himself noted. Something the whistleblower himself, Mangini, has said “obviously” had no impact on the Patriots’ success during that period.

    But the NFL heavily favors the Patriots and they are big cheaters with no valid titles, right guys?

  14. He possibly killed another man by shooting him in the back of the head, and them left him in a truck while he and his buds chilled. Yea, I can see where bosses might frown on that.

  15. Let’s see if Goodell comes down hard on a player from his favorite team. I will believe it when it happens.

  16. Okay if you fine Hernandez 500K, then Jimmy Haslem should be fined a percentage of the Browns revenue.

  17. I’ve been a Pats fan longer than most posters here have been on this planet.

    Lock him up and throw away the key.

  18. “The NFL and the Cowboys have managed to keep defensive tackle Josh Brent at a distance while he prepares for a September 2013 trial in the DUI death of Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown. ”

    Other than, you know, having Brent on the sideline during the game immediately following Brown’s death.

  19. Say what you want about Aaron… What he did was smart as far as protecting his own freedom is concerned… That evidence he destoyed likely would have had him charged with, at the very least “complicity to murder”, and for him to walk away from this with only an “obstructing justice” charge would say to me, that he knew what he was doing. However, that doesn’t stop people from talking, and right now he may have them wrapped around his finger, and their mouths might be shut, but as pressure is applied, and time goes on, it may be almost impossible to keep people whom witnessed this wrong doing from seeking justice for the young man that was murdered.. Especially, if the guys girlfriend seen it, or got wind of what happened..

  20. Forget Goodell, Hernandez’s biggest worry is whether he is bigger and stronger than his new cell mate, Leroy. Leroy is primarily interested in seeing if Hernandez is a real tight end or not.

  21. Comparing this to Dante Stallworths crime is about as far as “apples to apples” it gets. Dante Stallworth was driving drunk and did kill a man. Security footage nearby revealed it was “unavoidable” meaning even if Stallworth was sober the man would have been hit by a car and died. He didn’t do anything to cover it up either and displayed remorse. It was an accident. Either Hernandez or some of his friends murdered someone, then at the very least Hernandez tried to cover it up. He will never play another down of football, and will recvieve far more jail time then the 30 days Stallworth did. Out of respect for the family Stallworth plead guilty even though he stood a descent shot at fighting the charges and receiving no jail time at all. You are comparing a murder and cover up to an accident, and it is disgusting.

  22. I firmly believe that Hernandez destroyed evidence because he knew or had knowlege of what happened and was trying to cover it up. I don’t think that can be debated anymore.

    Now the question lies whether he was involved, or what role he might have played, in the actual murder plot.

    Either way, he should be suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of the investigation. If not by the NFL, then by the Pats.

  23. Hey Mike, how is allowing Brent on the sidelines a few days after he killed his teammate and Jerry Jones repeated statements of support “keeping him at a distance”?

  24. “long time”? How about forever? If this was any one of us we’d already be in jail with a worse charge and our lives would be ruined.
    The only jobs we’d be able to get afterwards are Wal Mart greeter or McDonalds.

  25. What are the salary cap ramifications for the Patriots if Hernandez is suspended? Ampats you should know.

  26. I would think destroying video surveillance evidence would be a skill very desirable to the Patriots organization.

  27. As I watch this unfold, it becomes more and more obvious what happened.

    4 guys went out drinking. Definitely under the influence, they go back to Hernandez’s house. Some argument (maybe petty, maybe serious) gets out of hand. One of the guys has a gun, and gets stressed to the point where he pulls the trigger. Odin Lloyd dies. Execution-style.

    Panicked, AND INTOXICATED, the other three guys try to figure out what to do. Under the influence, the best they could come up with was to take the body to a nearby industrial park and dump it. They didn’t have time or sense to figure out a better place to dump it. Plus, they were drunk.

    By the time Tuesday morning hit, they realized that they were caught. The body had already been found, and the media had linked the SUV to Hernandez. They were screwed. Destroying cell phones and security footage wasn’t a good idea, and they knew it, but they were in so deep at this point that they pretty much hd no choice. They couldn’t just leave the video of the murder. It wasn’t a great idea, but they felt they had to do it.

    So yes, their actions do not seem to make sense, but remember, this started when they were drunk… and the next morning they panicked when it was national news.

    Reminds me a lot of the old movie “Juice”. Hernandez seems like the alpha dog, like Bishop in that movie.

  28. A friend of mine said it best ….

    As Ravens fans, we are in a fairly unique position of sympathizing with Hernandez and the Pats org if it turns out his only involvement was covering up the crime.

    But as someone who is utterly sick to death of the snide Ray Lewis insinuations from Pats fans and the NFL fandom at large, I gotta say that the irony will be so rich and tasty that it’s probably fattening.

  29. We all know he killed Odin. Just like Ray Lewis he will pawn it off on one of his buddies. I think other murderers should use this case and Ray’s as a precedent for their own punishment.

  30. Thank you for pointing out that Roethlisberger was neither arrested or charged. And he’s not the only rich, young millionaire with stalkers.

  31. Murderer. Why hasnt he been cut yet? Double standards, if he had a disease Belicheat wouldve axed him in a heart beat.

  32. The pundits on talk radio keep saying how he’s played his last down in a Patriots uniform. In a Pats uniform, how about the NFL guys??? I don’t see how he gets out of this one. How is he not going to jail for a long time w/ all the evidence pointing to his involvement

  33. Wow. Can you imagine the mentality of a guy who’s living the dream (of most of us) and decides to throw it all away like this?

  34. I’d put the over-under on Goodell’s suspension at two full seasons. Depending on how it all plays out, AH might be looking at a lifetime ban from the NFL.

  35. Pats fan here, and sick to my stomach that I cheered this guy on with my kids. Get him out of the league, I don’t care what it takes.

  36. for the people in the last article claiming that you can’t get in trouble for destroying your own cell phone, security system, and having your house cleaned, you totally can when you have committed a crime or are suspected of committing a crime. if you at home lawyers want to really get technical about it, go read your contract and legal rights with a cell phone, and you will realize that you do not own the rights to everything you put on the phone, the service company does as well as you. Any texts, web searches, and tracking information the phone provides is owned by the service provider, therefore trying to restrict the police access to this by destroying your own property is considered obstruction of justice.

  37. “For Hernandez, the clearest apples-to-apples comparison comes from the cases of Leonard Little and Donte’ Stallworth.”
    Am I missing something, or did Aaron Hernandez commit vehicular homicide?

  38. Maybe the NFL should give out the Ray Lewis Award. Given to players for outstanding achievement in obstruction of justice or murder.

  39. if this was me id be under the prison already. It blows my mind how our justice system works.

  40. I understand and agree with due process but the facts are a man is dead and, whether or not Hernandez killed him, he was involved in the murder. At the very least he should be suspended indefinitely. Que the dislikes by Patriots fans.

  41. Apples to Apples?

    He is not charged with driving drunk and killing someone, he is charged with not being forthcoming with police. More like Apples to pumpkins.

  42. He will be suspended for no less than a full year if it is proven that he tried to destroy evidence in an execution style murder investigation.(he might be in jail longer than that)

  43. He’s stuck. He won’t dare testify against others ala Lewis because of the gangsta’ code about being a snitch. And when he doesn’t the law will come down hard on him.

  44. This guy has a laundry list of gun & gang affiliation troubles going back to college. I bet those teams that kept them off their boards are now very glad that they went w/ their instincts. I hope justice is served for Odin Lloyd. Let’s not forget his name or the fact that he was murdered executioner style and his family are suffering right now. Justice has yet to be served. The fact that Hernandez clearly tried to destroy evidence makes me think that he deserves all the bad things coming his way if not more.

  45. OK – the glass is half-full…

    Let’s void and cut his contract immediately freeing up cap space. Who’s available on the market that can help the Pats?

    Sorry, this is a business and Hernandez will have to fend for himself…

  46. Destroying video surveillance at the scene of a murder AND cleaning that same location is simply amazing.

    The only thing missing is calling in an anonymous tip that Manti Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend was scene leaving the house with what appeared to be a dangerous metal object in her shooting hand.

  47. LONG time Pats fan here. I have to say this is the end for him in New England and most likely his life as a free man (at least for a while).

    When the stories first came out it sounded like all was just happenstance. A body was found nearby a famous athletes home. Then more and more came out. Stick a fork in him, he is done.

    Too bad. The guy has some real talent for his position. Now (as others eluded to in their comments), he will be taking up a new one in the (big) house he will be occupying in the near future.

  48. This will be a murder case and obstruction of justice is just the first charge to get these guys in. Hope they can find the Peterson jurors instead of the wimps in the latest high profile cases.

  49. It will be interesting to see how the holier than thou Patriots handle this. He obviously has not learned his lessons on his past transgressions that are now being brought to light. As per usual with athletes from an early age on they get away with things and are allowed to keep playing because of their talent as we now see with Hernandez. Patsies have a narrow window now for winning a Super Bowl with Brady aging, so again it will be interesting how Hoodie handles this. Personally, I cannot wait to see his news conferences this year with this matter and the Tebow media circus each week.

  50. Even if the “only” thing he did was cover up a grisly murder, he no longer deserves a career in the NFL. It shouldn’t even be a question.

  51. if Goodell didn’t suspend himself for obstruction of justice in the spygate scandal, how can he suspend anyone else for the same charge!!!

  52. This is so stupit. If guilty i feel like he should pay thefull prize. These guys have a great talent and a great opportunnity has been giving to them and dnt know how to take advantage

  53. i’m no expert on crime or guns or violence, but i believe it is not possible to shoot someone in the back of the head during an altercation, only after or instead of.

  54. It’s obvious that all 3 men have lawyered up. The police are just being methodical until they have enough evidence to gain arrest warrants for all three. It might take awhile, but my guess is that it will happen within the next few days.

  55. Tim Tebow thanks Hernandez for taking the heat off of him for the preseason. But Coach isn’t going to be happy that media is at camp for another reason.

  56. You never know how a 20-something year old man with gang roots is going to behave when you give him a 12.5 million dollar signing bonus. That’s what Hernandez got last August. Since then we see the effects in his behavior.

    With a seemingly bottomless pit of a bank account, he probably feels very powerful and feels that he has arrived at a place he always dreamed of being–a hot-$#/t football player with a gigantic pile of coin.

    Immaturely, he is unable to envision anything greater than where he is now so he is reveling in the moment and forsaking the future.

    His brazen actions and nonchalant demeanor suggest to me that he feels like a King and so he acting like a King.

    He’s got so much money, he probably thinks he can afford to weather this mess and come out the end a rich man.

  57. watermelon1 says:
    Jun 21, 2013 9:42 AM
    So Patriots fans… Where’s all your Ray Lewis jokes at now?!?

    As a Pats fan I can tell you that the sentiment here in Massachusetts is that with what we have heard so far is that Hernandez is knee deep in this and needs to see the inside of a jail cell. The reality is, attempting to destroy the cell phone and security system hard drive is just like destroying the white suit…and Hernandez needs to be accountable.

    It looks pretty bad for Hernandez, and if what we are hearing really is the case then Hernandez needs to see the inside of a prison cell…and if the only thing he’s done is obstruct justice (and let’s be honest, there is a good chance he’s done more than that) then he also needs to be suspended from the NFL for at least a season AFTER serving time.

  58. So Patriots fans… Where’s all your Ray Lewis jokes at now?!?

    Ray played for the Ravens for a decade after the murder.

    Hernandez will never wear the Patriots uniform again.

    See the difference?

  59. Update 1:52pm EST: The New England Patriots have waived Aaron Hernandez, who was then immediately claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, which triggered a run on plan tickets to Florida from Boston as media hounds scrambled to get themselves to Jacksonville. All is now quiet on the Patriots front as they prepare for training camp. Nary a Tebowmaniac to be found….

    That Belichick is a genius I tell you. Genius!

  60. This is the hottest story around and every so-called ‘journalist’ is looking to make his mark, make his/her bones, get the SCOOP.

    When this happens the facts tend to be pushed aside.

    So – it is smart of Hernandez to stay away from the ‘press’, it is smart of the Patriots’ to say “no comment” it is smart to just sit tight and let the dust settle.

    What will happen then?

    The ‘press’ will write stuff complaining about the refusal of the characters in this little drama to give them meat to chew on, pats haters will continue to gorge themselves on every little rumor and innuendo, blahblahblah, the excrement will continue to hit the air circulator, feces will continue to occur.

    Life will go on

  61. h3min1230 says: Jun 21, 2013 9:31 AM

    You know what the saddest part is all of this is? It’s that the losers on this site that make it seem as this is Karma for a sports team “allegedly” taping an oponents practices. A young man dies and that’s the first reaction you fools have?



    YES that is the perspective a NORMAL human being takes on this topic, rather than the Anti-Patriot PFT Commenter perspective…Seriously, all these losers still caught up with all of that spygate garbage are ridiculous. The Pats may not have a pristine 100% clean image, but (at least before this) were still pretty damn classy and professional. Not to mention they aren’t going to be like the Ravens and welcome him back with open arms. Gonna just tell this clown to take this crap down I-95 to the NYJ’s.

  62. @h3min1230 & dmc1542, you would think by now you would realize that spygate will forever be associated with BB and the Patriots, and nothing will ever change that. No matter how classy their fans think they are. Usually classy and cheaters don’t mix, but I digress…

    Stop acting as this story is about the young man who died. It’s about AH’s involvement in a murder. If you thought differently, you would be on CNN or FoxNews right now instead of PFT.

  63. When you’re an NFL player, your highlights are shown on cable. When your highlights are shown on cable, you land a mega-dollars contract extension. When you land a mega-dollars contract extension, you buy a house with all the latest technology gadgets including a state-of-the-art security system. When you buy a house with all the latest technology gadgets including a state-of-the-art security system, your criminal activity is captured on video. When your criminal activity is captured on video, you destroy your security system. Don’t destroy your security system. Get rid of cable. And upgrade to DirectTV.

  64. Ok Roger, here’s your chance to add a line to your personal conduct policy.

    If an NFL player is convicted of any crime involving a murder including obstruction of justice, the penalty is a lifetime ban with the player’s salary counting against the teams salary cap just as if the player was still active.

    This would go a long way toward cleaning up the NFL’s image wouldn’t it? It would also cause teams to think twice before drafting a player with a checkered past.

    The penalty needs to be severe, harsh and non-negotiable when a life is taken in this manner. This is the second incident of this type and now needs to be addressed moving forward with the thought that another similar incident could occur in the future.

    How many more lives need to be lost at the hands of NFL players before a step like this is taken?

    Playing in the NFL is a privilege not afforded to many and should be thought of that way.

  65. You see folks, this is what happens when we put these clowns on a pedestal. We can’t believe something like this could ever happen. Well obviously is does. For 3 hours on Sunday these guys are Gods, the rest of the week, and the entire off season, they too are mere mortals. I used to be the biggest sports nut in the world but now at 65 years old, I could really not care. Over paid, over pampered, given great citizen status because they are forced by the league to visit a hospital once in a while and smile for the cameras as they give some kid a stuffed animal. Blah. I say write them all off. Watch the games on TV, save your money for some other family value trip rather than wasting it at some stadium, and let these goons know where you stand.

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