In 2000, Baltimore Ravens fans were devastated and worried at the same time. Future Hall-of-Fame Linebacker Ray Lewis was accused of double murder outside an Atlanta nightclub.
He was hanging around the wrong crowd.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ravens fans are more in touch than other NFL fans with what happened that night, as they watched around-the-clock coverage. The others just assumed the worst.
In the end, Ray Lewis was cleared of murder, pleading to the much lesser charge, obstruction of justice.
The court of public opinion thought otherwise. Thirteen years later, NFL fans across the country still throw out the “murderer” chants and ask, “where’s the white suit?”
This week, we learned of a new murder case. This time it’s not on a team that America hates for its “rough and tough” image, but instead on a team that has an overall positive image with a head coach and owner that seem to have a way to squash issues before they blow up.
Fox 25 in Boston is reporting that New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez is involved in a murder case. Hernandez’s girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend is dead and Fox 25 says that Hernandez is being questioned in connection to the murder.
Police executed a search warrant in his home yesterday. Sources told Fox 25 that Hernandez was driving a rental car in his name with two friends and the victim in it. At the end of that night, only Hernandez and his two friends dropped the car off.
Also coming out yesterday was Hernandez’s involvement in a civil lawsuit alleging he shot a man in February in the face, outside a Miami strip club.
Now, we must let things play out and Hernandez needs to be given due process and is innocent until proven guilty in court. However, I wonder what Ravens fans are feeling about all this.
I lived in Maine for the last 10 years. If you don’t know, Maine is basically a sports suburb of Boston. All of my in-laws live in Maine and I have a ton of friends there… all Boston sports fans.
While living there over the past 10 years, I have grown to dislike the sports teams in Boston more than any other in the country, and I would say most of that comes from the attitude of their fans. I would say that I root against the Patriots and Red Sox more than I root against the Steelers and Yankees.
With that background, I’ll be honest… when I first heard about this Hernandez story part of me said, “How’s it feel now, Pats fans?”
While living amongst Patriots nation as a Ravens fan, I heard it all. I attended Ravens games at Gillette Stadium and heard all the “murder” talk. I would wear my Ray Lewis jersey on game day around town and heard nothing positive about the greatest linebacker of all time.
So admittedly I’m a bit jaded – my viewpoint somewhat tainted.
But as I digest this Hernandez story, I really struggle with what to think. One thought is … “See? It can happen to anyone, and now you know how Ravens fans felt.”
Hernandez could be totally innocent of murder, as Lewis was, but no one is giving him the benefit of the doubt. Yet as a Ravens fan, knowing what you Pats fans are going through, I will.
I must admit though, as a competitor, I’m guilty of another not-so-flattering thought as it relates to the Hernandez case – “Ha, now the Patriots will be without both of their Tight Ends to start the season!”
So Ravens fans, where do you stand?
How do you feel about this case and Hernandez?