After completing the three-part docuseries on Aaron Hernandez on Netflix, I was left conflicted.
Not because I believe he is innocent, absolutely not, he may be my generations OJ, but it was how it handled and covered.
It left me feeling like Michele McPhee was the villain in all of this despite the former New England Patriots tight end being found guilty of murder of Odin Lloyd in June 2013.
McPhee appeared on a Boston sports radio show “The Kirk & Callahan Show” to talk about her new book “Maximum Harm” which investigates the Boston Marathon bombing in 2017.
Hernandez had just been acquitted for the double homicide killing in South End of Boston.
But Kirk Minihane and Gerry Callahan decide this is a good time to discuss Hernandez sexuality – because why not right?
What was said?
It started like this: “This rumour,” Callahan said on air, “This Aaron Hernandez rumour – which is so juicy it is big.”
“It’s something we can certainly play with as the days go on,” Minihane said. “I’m not sure how comfortable Michele is in talking about it.”
McPhee was, however, open to talking about it. “I mean, hey,” she said to her radio pals. “Let’s tease away.”
Hernandez was clearly troubled and I believe, like others, a lot of trauma and bad decision making lead to these events.
But for a journalist and radio hosts to joke on-air about a man’s sexuality can still be seen as not credible or professional even if found guilty.
Under media law, people who are sent to prison lose privileges such as being called mister, I don’t think it ever says they lose the privilege to reveal their sexuality, guilty or not guilty.
Not only is it disrespectful to his fiancé and daughter, who is already dealing with multiple court cases, but it is also disrespectful to the LBTQ+ community.
In case you didn’t know what they all said I’ve included it below.
The three jokingly discussed, I may add in a cringing manner, on the suggestion that Hernandez was sexually attracted to men. Using football metaphors to insinuate his preference, the men referred to Hernandez as a “tight end on and off the field,” adding, “then he became a wide receiver.” This went on, with McPhee adding that Hernandez kicked “with both feet.”
Two days later, Hernandez killed himself.
The worrying thing about this reporting is not only does it cause an uproar, but McPhee is also now receiving a multitude of threats on social media.
I will also never agree with this behaviour, two wrongs to do not make a right and McPhee has discussed this in a recent Newsweek column.
McPhee is regretful of her comments and I get her reason, she was with people she knew, she felt comfortable.
But she also says she felt it was more about reporting on why he did it, why he would murder someone, something I am not sure I can get behind.
The main question is now asked – why did they feel the need to discuss his sexuality at all in relation to his case?
It was something the prosecution was willing to use in their case against Hernandez in the double homicide but a lawyer on Hernandez’s team fought and won against this claim.
What the Hernandez documentary covered
The documentary itself is well worked but does leave me wanting more answers.
It focused a lot on the fact people said Hernandez was gay and he tried to hide this from the world of football.
Then, it briefly touched on CTE in the final episode for around 10 minutes, which is a controversial subject in itself, but the pictures of his brain were horrifying for a 27-year-old.
I am not sure it was Netflix’s goal for you to end up feeling sorry for the guy, but I did, and it felt wrong, very wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, my biggest sympathy lies with Odin, because his life was taken way too quickly over a motive we will never know of.
Lloyd’s body was found in the middle of an industrial park where he was left after he was shot dead because, again, of a motive, we do not know.
He had a promising future, loved his football, and had great friends, family, and a girlfriend.
But after speaking to some friends who said this about Hernandez: “I think it was a ‘perfect’ storm of adverse childhood events, brain trauma, substance misuse, and poor choices in friends led to these events. Being gay or otherwise, was pretty irrelevant.”
Has Hernandez’s background really been unearthed?
I felt the above quote is completely the right take, maybe he did want to hide his sexuality, the world of football can be unforgiving, however, the documentary may have focused too much if he was gay or not.
It needed to delve more into his brain injury, his behaviour, childhood abuse and his circle of friends in Connecticut.
The documentary also needed to explore further into his life in Florida during college and his faith and relationship with Urban Meyer who tried to help him keep on the straight path.
At the end of the day, all said and done, we have families grieving over their lost ones.