TELANDER: Chilling to consider an NFL player with a body count
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com | @ricktelander May 17, 2014 7:04PM
Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been indicted on new murder charges in a double slaying in Boston in 2012. | Brian Snyder/AP
Updated: June 23, 2014 11:41AM
This Aaron Hernandez dude, formerly a star tight end with the New England Patriots but now incarcerated in a Boston jail, is apparently the kind of near-fictional character that even Hollywood could not jam down our throats. But he’s allegedly for real.
That is, Hernandez, the agile, 250-pound receiver who caught 175 passes for nearly 2,000 yards from 2010 to 2012, was just indicted for a double-murder shooting he allegedly carried out shortly before Patriots training camp in 2012. He already is awaiting trial for the murder of a 27-year-old man in 2013.
Set to earn many millions of dollars playing football, Hernandez had to be, when he was playing, the first active serial killer in NFL history. No O.J. Simpson mentions, please.
◆ SOME PEOPLE think the head-trauma suit by former NFL players that the league recently settled — under review — for $765 million was a big deal.
Well, the NCAA concussion problem might make that seem like small potatoes.
As Rodney K. Smith, a former college president and director of the Sports Law and Business Program at Arizona State, wrote in a recent USA Today essay, ‘‘With many more players [potential litigants] and players with less developed brains, the NCAA has a potential liability for head injuries that runs into the billions of dollars. It is a prescription for bankruptcy.’’
The NCAA, so busy making TV deals and expanding revenue frontiers, had better take note. Pronto.
◆ A LOT OF THINGS we guys do in sports workouts are dumb.
The combination of machismo and desire plus bad or nonexistent science has always been a dangerous mix. Think testosterone and gunpowder.
Add an ignorant coach and/or trainer pushing hard, and you’ve got ka-boom.
Thus it is that former Iowa cornerback William Lowe is suing the school for damage caused to him because of a ridiculously stupid offseason football workout in 2011 that caused him and 12 teammates to be hospitalized with exertional rhabdomyolisis.
‘‘Rhabdo,’’ as it is known in the workout world, is a dangerous condition caused by muscles breaking down and releasing proteins into the bloodstream, a poisoning which can cause kidney failure. To get rhabdo, you basically need to lift weights or do exercises to such an extreme that you start to destroy your muscles. Your urine turns dark, your muscles swell, hurt like crazy, and you can barely move the affected area.
The Iowa players were ordered to do 100 squats with weights equaling half their maximum single lift to see how tough they were and, according to the school’s own investigative report, to see who ‘‘wanted to be on the team.’’
Lowe was in the hospital for a week, and he claims he still suffers physical and mental pain that has required ongoing medical care, drugs and therapy. The other players affected aren’t part of this suit, but you can bet they’re watching.
Just a reminder, folks: Football coaches have more power than you can imagine over the young men in their charge. Often these coaches are certified by no one. Sometimes they’re sadists. Yet they can have your life in their hands.
Remember that the next time you wonder why a high school or college football player did something that seemed self-destructive on the field or in the workout room.
And pray there’s a guardian angel looking out for the kid.
◆ MONEY TIME.
How much do you think new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made in his first 6 1/2 months on the job?
If you said $1.5 million, you know your amateur sports!
◆ HOW MUCH did the Southeastern Conference rake in during the fiscal year ending last Aug. 31?
Did you say $314 million?
◆ HOW MUCH does Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer make? Alabama’s Nick Saban? Arkansas’ Bret Bielema?
You say $4.6 million, $5.6 million and $5.2 million? Very good.
And how much will Texas be paying for new coach Charlie Strong, counting salary and buyout from Louisville, from whence Strong bolted with barely a goodbye? Yes, $9.4 million. With the possibility for Strong to get a $900,000 bonus this year.
Remember, college players get paid nothing.
◆ HOW MUCH DO NFL head coaches such as the Oakland Raiders’ Dennis Allen, the Buffalo Bills’ Doug Marrone, the Minnesota Vikings’ Mike Zimmer, the Cleveland Browns’ Mike Pettine and certain others make? Generally in the $2.5 million-to-$3.5 million range.
◆ CONCLUSION: Why coach in the NFL when you can get rich with free labor in the NCAA?