Rolling Stone's hotly anticipated Aaron Hernandez story has dropped (bizarrely, co-written by the Herald's Ron Borges), and it paints a picture of a man who spiraled into a paranoid PCP haze over the year leading up to Odin Lloyd's murder.
Here's your money quote:
"Aaron’s out of his mind," says one friend of the family. "He’s been twisted on dust now for more than a year, which is when all of this crazy shit started."
Yesterday's tease may have overpromised. Much of the information here comes from court documents and previous news reports. The new stuff comes from conversations with friends of Hernandez and his family, and depicts a generally good kid who fell in with a bad crowd after his mother cheated on his father with an abusive cocaine dealer, and his father died when Aaron was 16.
Problems emerged at Florida, where according to the report Urban Meyer had daily bible readings with Hernandez, and assigned the Pouncey twins and Tim Tebow to be his minders. The story implied Meyer and the UF machine kept police off Hernandez's back, even as he was questioned for punching a waiter and later, being involved in a shooting where the suspect's description closely resembled Hernandez. The previously teased nugget that Urban Meyer may have helped him cover up failed drug tests? That's not in here.
Though he scored a 1 out of 10 on a pre-draft psychological test for "social maturity," the Patriots took a flyer on him, in keeping with taking risks for value.
But it was last summer, after Hernandez signed a $40 million contract extension, that things went southward in a hurry. (Hernandez himself admitted in a letter from jail that he "fell off especially after making all that money.") According to Rolling Stone, Hernandez flew to the NFL combine this February to tell Bill Belichick he believed there were people trying to kill him. This was angel dust paranoia, the article implies, and Hernandez had begun carrying a gun with him everywhere he went.
This past spring he skipped out on team training drills, going to California to rehab an aching shoulder and take a much-needed break from New England. But while out there, according to the source, he blew off sessions with his therapist, Alex Guerrero, and stood up Tom Brady, who was running a camp for Pats receivers. Worse, the police were called out to his Hermosa Beach rental on March 25th, summoned by his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, after a loud dispute during which Hernandez put his fist through a window. No arrest was made, but word got back to Belichick, who exploded and tendered notice: Any more disruptions and he’d be traded or cut at the end of the 2013 season.
Rolling Stone says Belichick told Hernandez to lie low and rent a safe house, which, if true, whoa. (That safe house would later be a base of operations for co-suspects Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, and police searches turned up weapons, ammunition, and drug paraphernalia.)
The article places some of the blame on Hernandez's wayward ways on the Patriots. Soon after taking over the team, Belichick fired the longtime security chief who had good connections with local police, and would always be kept abreast of any trouble players got up to. The new guy, Belichick's man, was less plugged-in.
The thread that emerges questions just how "duped" the Patriots were. While it's hard to say anyone should have seen a murder coming (or maybe they should have, considering he might have done it before), this story lays out a number of warning signs: missed practices, regular drug use, blown-off teammates, paranoid and violent fears. This section also has Ron Borges's fingerprints all over it.
What isn't here is a motive for Odin Lloyd's murder, though it gets closer. It had previously been reported that Hernandez was enraged by people Lloyd spoke to at a club two days before his death. Rolling Stone lays out that night:
Per a close friend of Lloyd’s, they’d been getting buzzed in VIP when Lloyd saw two of his cousins downstairs. He went to hug them up and buy them drinks when one of them, a West Indian with dreads, started pointing and mean-mugging Hernandez. “I don’t like that nigger, he’s one of them funny people,” said the cousin. “Stop pointing, that’s my boy,” said Lloyd of Hernandez. “You’re gonna start some shit ’tween me and him.” “Well, I don’t want you with him, he’s a punk,” said Lloyd’s cousin, jabbing his finger again in Hernandez’s direction.
When Lloyd went back upstairs, Hernandez was enraged. Club security cameras allegedly capture the two men squabbling, showing Hernandez, six-two and a rippled 250, facing off with the five-11 Lloyd. The friends stopped short of throwing punches, though cameras mounted outside the club show the argument resuming in the street.
Go check out the story. Boston will be happy to know that Hernandez did not get the cover.
The Gangster in the Huddle [Rolling Stone]