This morning the sports world woke up to the news Aaron Hernandez apparently committed suicide overnight.
The former New England Patriots tight end, who starred for coach Urban Meyer at Florida, was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell in a Massachusetts prison where he was serving a life sentence for murdering a man four years ago.
This comes less than a week after he was acquitted of murdering two other people.
The Hernandez story is obviously a tragedy on many levels. His fall from grace aside, he leaves behind many broken lives behind.
It’s also a reminder of the difficult dance coaches face with players who get in trouble — and how we often get those stories wrong in the media.
Coaches risk being called enablers if they show leniency or compassion, and sometimes they really are just looking the other way in order to win football games. Guys with Hernandez’s size, strength and speed get more chances than most, of course.
But there are no easy answers here.
There are players who need to lose everything to see they need to turn their lives around, but probably many more would be worse off without the structure, guidance and support of coaches and administrators.
Of course, winning football games with talented players is nice, too, but there’s a bigger picture of which we often lose sight.
Meyer told his biographer, Pat Dooley, he and wife Shelley did everything they could to try to keep Hernandez on the straight and narrow when he was still in Gainesville.
And yet at the end of the day, there is only so much anyone can do for anyone else in terms of preventing them from going down the wrong path.
It’s worth keeping in mind when we talk about crime and punishment in the sports world.
Hockey season is not over yet in Ohio.
The Blue Jackets outslugged the Penguins 5-3 last night at Nationwide Arena with Urban Meyer among the crowd.
Has Columbus found the good luck charm it needed?
The CBJ still trail Pittsburgh 3-1 in the series, but there is precedent for a team recovering from trailing an NHL playoff series 3-0.
The last team to do it, the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, not only rallied to beat the San Jose Sharks after trailing 3-0 in the first round but went on to win the Stanley Cup.
And who scored the Cup-clinching goal in overtime against the New York Rangers? Former Miami RedHawk Alec Martinez.
A.J. Hawk is officially calling it quits.
He said earlier this year he was all but done, but now the deed is done.
He is looking to get into broadcasting next, and it will be interesting to see how he does in that field.
PHOTOS: Hawk career retrospective
I’d say he’s got the chops to pull it off, and it sounds like he’s going about it the right way rather than jumping to the front of the line like Tony Romo and so many ESPN talking heads…
How about the Cincinnati Reds?
The National League Central leaders broke out the whipping sticks in a 9-3 win over the Orioles last night.
Adam Duvall’s grand slam broke it open in the second inning and the top four batters in the Cincinnati lineup combined to get on base 11 times.
Bronson Arroyo went five innings and allowed three runs.
He picked up his first win in over 1,000 days, so that’s cool.
In case you missed it, we’ve now got video from the Dunbar-Belmont game that ended in controversy last football season.
The clips clearly show the Wolverines giving the ball away on two plays in the second half after apparently being told something they didn’t want to hear by their coaches.
This is a sad saga so far, one in which it looks like more than one adult let down the players…
Sticking with high school football, four-star Fairfield defensive end Malik Vann made news yesterday by committing to play for Luke Fickell at Cincinnati.
As soon as Fickell was hired, I figured the key to his success would be recruiting the area far harder than his predecessor.
He already had a commitment from a four-star tight end Josh Whyle of Cincinnati La Salle.
So far, so good…
The Bengals hosted a bunch of local prospects for NFL draft workouts yesterday, including Hamilton High School grad Marcus Oliver.
He was a very productive linebacker at Indiana the past three years.
While the Hoosiers have generally been bad on defense in recent history, Oliver was one of several impressive individuals who managed to stand out.
Ohio State receiver Dontre Wilson also took part in the workouts and told Jay Morrison he is willing to do anything to make an NFL roster, including cover kicks and punts.
Wilson came to Ohio State amid great fanfare and was productive when healthy, though he never quite showed the explosiveness he was expected to bring when he signed.
He could certainly still be worth taking a look at in camp, especially if he is completely healthy…
Local gems: Dayton ‘overwhelmed with joy’ to keep First Four… Can you imagine anyone actually doing the First Four better than it’s been done so far in the Gem City?… Wright State added a transfer from Drake and the family of injured Raiders freshman Ryan Custer offered an update on his status… Anthony Grant has added a second assistant to his staff… Dayton will play a home-and-home with Auburn starting later this year… The Dragons bounced back from a crushing defeat to beat the Lansing Lugnuts 11-2.
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