Aaron Hernandez is a long way from the flashing lights, fan fare and NFL football paradise which featured him as one of its rising stars. Hernandez is being held without bail at Bristol County House of Correction while awaiting trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd, but going from the brutal NFL to the violent penitentiary is proving to be a seamless transition for the 24-year-old, disgraced tight end with a coldblooded mentality.
If there were those who felt that Hernandez would become somebody’s “piece” while locked down or succumb to the authentically volatile social interactions and indignities within the steel gates, his recent dust-up with a fellow inmate does more than just let it be known that he will throw hands without hesitation.
It puts other inmates on notice. Standing your ground is just as important a concept in that cesspool of a prison subculture as it is to racists looking to pop innocent black kids in Florida.
Most of the inmates probably see Hernandez as a spoiled, coddled athlete who blew it all living a drug-filled, fantasy life inspired by athletic privilege, gangster flicks and hip-hop music. It was only a matter of time before somebody tried Hernandez, even though it's reported that he's housed in the special management area of the jail, segregated from the prison's general population. In the hood we just call that PC (protective custody). Location aside, inmates know that he’s sitting on some chips and extortion is par for the course in the system. So is senseless violence, the very thing Hernandez is accused of, and his compulsive attitude and willingness to do anything to intimidate the opposition fits perfectly with prison culture.
According to sheriff’s reports, another inmate, who is housed in the same segregated area, had been verbally provoking Hernandez Tuesday morning. Sometime Tuesday afternoon, Hernandez was walking in a secured hallway when he came into contact with the same inmate who was harassing him. Reportedly, Hernandez flexed hard on the inmate, using his 6-1 245-pound body to assert his presence as a proactive participant in any form of blood sport required.
It’s unclear how both Hernandez and the other inmate came to be in that hallway, which is reserved for just one inmate at a time. The extent of injuries suffered is also sketchy, but Hernandez could be facing some additional time once the incident is fully investigated. If Hernandez is convicted for assault, the max penalty is two and a half years in a House of Correction. Taking his high-profile into account, the sheriff could make an example out of Hernandez.
Legal analyst Brad Bailey told MyFoxBoston.com, "The sheriff wants to keep a safe environment and wants to project to the outside world that even inmates, even people who are accused or people in the House of Corrections who are convicted of crimes, have rights to be safe and protected. And if he feels he needs to send that message out there and if he thinks the incident was serious enough, sure he'll refer it out for prosecution and it'll be up to the Bristol County DA's office and they'll take it forward."
It looks like the real Aaron Hernandez story is just getting started. Being indicted for murder and facing a mound of evidence is usually cause for people to forget about you. Especially if you’re an athlete whose missing from the trenches. Hernandez's importance was based on his deftness at catching footballs and TDs at a prolific rate for a legendary NFL franchise. Now that he’s been stripped of his livelihood, most people expect him to fade to black.
It seems Hernandez didn’t get the memo.
Hernandez has expressed confidence that he will – in the words of Jay Z –“beat the charges like Rocky,” and in the, meantime he is creating a little jailhouse legacy for himself. On the streets and behind bars is where the Thug Element thrives, getting props for your strong jailhouse acumen speaks volumes to your character as a “real” dude. Apparently Hernandez was studiously focused on adopting some kind of street code and running his circle of friends like a criminal organization in which he was the top shotta. He seemed to put as much effort into being a maniacal and menacing, sharp-shooter as he did into becoming an All-Pro at his position. Now he has the opportunity to live the life he has coveted for so long as a true thug facing life behind the steel gates.
If he can withstand the charges, this episode and any confrontation between Hernandez and an inmate moving forward, will serve to add to his tough guy, crazy man image and should make him even more popular when he gets out. He’ll have the support and respect of working football fans, the kids who idolize him and the street element who can’t knock a dude that can hold his own in potentially deadly, pressure cooker situations.
Football players by nature present themselves as these macho super killers, but most of the time their off-field violence is limited to women, themselves or a weaker party. Ray Rice gets it in.
In 2012, it was Kansas City Chief’s player Jovan Belcher.
Often, when many of these players get away from the field they become victims of crimes perpetrated against them by real–deal killers, thieves, and extortionists.
Most people have already condemned Hernandez and feel that these recent actions are just further proof that he's twisted; loose cannon who heinously blasted his boy. The homies however, are waiting to see how this plays out. He’s no Rae Carruth. He didn’t try to dust off his pregnant girlfriend, killing her and leaving the kid – now a teenage boy - brain damaged and in need of constant care.
The facts in the case seem to hint towards Hernandez’s guilt, but a trial of his “peers” will determine that. In the meantime he’s still branding himself, even behind bars, and he’s always going to be an ultra-competitor. The dynamics of his situation may have changed, but Hernandez is still the same. He’s taking no shorts.