Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Jul 2013

Mandatory Monday: Fandom in Crisis

This was really hard to write. The Hernandez case has made me feel physically sick a few times: an occupational hazard, no doubt. Here's what I think of the sport we love these days, and also what I think of people who use terrible crimes like this to be as callous or cynical as possible.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 01 Jul 2013

32 comments, Last at 03 Jul 2013, 11:54pm by LionInAZ


by OmrothAnon (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 8:53am

I'm left completely cold by the concept of this article. I just don't think that Hernandez' crimes are anything to do with football. He's just (allegedly) a criminal who happens to play football.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 07/02/2013 - 12:49pm

Likewise. From what little I know of the facts of the case, this doesn't strike me as having any more to tell us about the NFL than Dennis Nilsen did about Jobcentres.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 9:05am

I thought it was heartfelt and interesting...Tanier is a thoughtful guy and, as someone whose profession is thinking about football, what is more likely to be on his mind than the Hernandez situation? (It would be odd for a music writer to have had nothing to say about Amy Winehouse right after she died.)

I almost feel I should apologize in advance for nit-picking an article that involves serious reflection, but the tackle for the Steelers is Mike Adams, not Joe Adams.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 9:21am

That was good, Mike, but I think the use of humor, in the form of extreme ridicule of the criminal, is quite useful, as long as we don't forget the victims of the criminal. It looks like this atrocity may have started with the typical liquored up idiot in a bar, who just couldn't stand the thought of somebody getting the better of him, in yet another dissing contest. Those stupid attitudes need changing, and ridicule can be a useful tool towards that end.

by nat :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 10:28am

Nice article. I could comb it for nits to pick, but that's not the point.

This murder is not an occasion for NFL or Patriots haters or homerism, either. It's only tangentially about football at all. The important things are that justice be done, due process followed, and the victim and his family accorded all due respect.

There is also a football story here. It's less important, but will get its own discussions. Let's try to keep those two topics separate. If we can't do that, it may be time to step away from the computer, set the game aside, and try to get some perspective.

Or so I understand this article to mean.

by BK (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 10:47am

One thing I question. He says "The Hernandez case is something that probably will not happen again, perhaps for years, hopefully ever. To be clear, players will always get into last-call brawls. There will always be DUIs and domestic incidents. NFL players are humans, after all, and humans regularly commit all of those sins. But we aren't going to be coping with a premeditated murder (or murders) every six months or every July 4."

Well, Rae Carruth didn't happen that long ago. This has all happened before, and it will all happen again. Because the world is what it is.

by CBPodge :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 11:22am

Also, the Hernandez case will happen time and time and time and time and time again. It just won't involve a top NFL player when it does, so it will be largely ignored.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 1:35pm

Even looking past the NFL player part this is pretty extraordinary, along the lines of finding out the young VP who just got a corner office was a gangbanger on the weekends just for kicks.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 2:39pm

Did you realize the Carruth murder took place 14 years ago? Carruth has served half of a Conspiracy to 1st degree murder charge.

It's also interesting to consider that Carruth and Hernandez seem to be the only NFL players to have committed a murder while on active rosters. There are a handful of former players who have -- OJ included, and a couple of manslaughters, but this is literally a once-in-a-generation type thing.

by Independent George :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 2:50pm

It never went to trial, but I think Marvin Harrison was still on the Colts roster when he allegedly killed someone.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 5:41pm

Leonard Little, Ray Lewis, Donte Stallworth, Josh Brent, and Jovan Belcher were all in the NFL at the times they were involved in killings. Some were manslaughter cases, and some weren't convicted. None were really quite the same as the multiple planned and widely separated by time murders alleged in the Hernandez case.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 07/02/2013 - 9:05am

I was separating out the Littles and the Stallworths; I don't think accidental killings are in quite the same boat. I excluded Lewis because no one ended up being convicted for the killing itself (although that makes it slightly hypocritical to include OJ; however, he's since all but admitted it).

by Vague (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 5:57pm

Ray "white suit" Lewis

by AB (not verified) :: Wed, 07/03/2013 - 6:22am

Belcher, surely? Killing yourself afterwards doesn't make it not a murder.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 07/03/2013 - 11:54pm

Yes, it is murder, even if the culprit commits suicide.

by bubqr :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 11:37am

That was odd. Maybe because there was more "heart" behind that than ever, but just never got into it for some reason. That nevers happens with the usual Tanierz

by RickD :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 11:55am

"You know what I blame this on the downfall of? Society. "

I'm having a serious Heathers flashback.

by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 12:43pm

Sir - My flashback was to the shootout scene in Repoman as, was it "Duke", faded.

Did Christian Slater say it as well in Heathers?


by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 1:50pm

Interesting read and obviously heartfelt. I guess I'm just not close enough to warrant the advice Tanier gives. I don't need balance because this has never been an all-encompassing event for me. Even if I were a hardcore Pats fan, I'm not sure it would be. It's a remarkable event in terms of the scope, but ultimately just another example of a lousy human being who was idolized for nothing beyond his ability to play a sport. Since he had a nice smile after the big wins, he must be a great guy... This actor is funny in movies, so he must be great in real life... She sings so pretty she couldn't possibly be anything but a lovely person.... That's the thinking that leads to this sort of idolatry.

The shock over him being a bad guy should be minimal, given there were questions about his character back when he was drafted. Shocking he killed multiple people, yes. Shocking he'd throw fame and fortune away by living that lifestyle, yes. Shocking he's a lousy human being? Not so much.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 2:10pm

It seems the root of this story is likely to be, sadly, a pretty mundane example of intoxication-fueled rage ending in murder. The 2nd elemment, the murder of a potential witness, is what makes it unusual. The 3rd element, the perp as a rich famous athlete, is what makes extremely unusual, but as you note, the fact that a rich famous athlete is a hideous human being isn't shocking at all.

by Bobman :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 2:09pm

Thanks, MT. Your stuff is solid even when you don't make us ROFL. I don't think the events put me in a funk, and I am glad that I didn't start trying to figure how the Colts suddenly match up with the Pats (I won't lie, I contemplated this in an abstract way), but maybe taking three weeks off as a consumer of football news is a good choice for me.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 3:26pm

No offense to Tanier, but there's been how many school shootings in the past few years and it's the Hernandez case that shakes him to the core? Why? Stunning Hernandez would do all this when he was already rich and famous, but this is all pretty well isolated to the underbelly of the gang culture. He killed somebody he thought was going to turn him in and some rivals in a drive-by. This is far less stunning than a senseless mass shooting of innocents.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 5:38pm

Did you read the same article the rest of us did? All Tanier is doing is writing out his processing of the Hernandez case as it's unfolded. I'm sure he was as horrified at what happened at Newtown and Casas Adobes and all the other mass shootings we've had too many of lately. He even admits America has a violence problem. It's the sentence in ALL CAPS in case you missed it.

I don't see where it says anything about how it took this to be shaken to the core. Tanier, like most of the rest of us, are trying to process this. We worry that since our kids treat players as heroes, they will try to emulate this monster. We don't worry about that so much with the perpetrators of Columbine, Aurora, and Red Lake. I read today that Hernandez jerseys are going for big bucks on eBay. I just hope one of my nephews isn't bidding on them.

by markus (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 10:00pm

Who out there is worried their kid is going to become gang banger emulating Hernandez? That's the craziest thing I've read about this incident, which is saying a whole lot.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 10:57pm

If somebody was trying to get out of a gang, I can see the Hernandez situation being bad news as it helps set the expectation of "once in the gang, always in the gang." But I agree it seems ludicrous to think anybody, no matter how impressionable, would run out and join a gang after seeing Hernandez totally throw his life away.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 07/02/2013 - 9:13am

"But I agree it seems ludicrous to think anybody, no matter how impressionable, would run out and join a gang after seeing Hernandez totally throw his life away."

Gang populations rose by about 400,000 between 2009 and 2011. Somehow, just like yesterday, I suspect new recruits signed up today.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 07/03/2013 - 4:14am

Check out the great This American Life report on life at an inner city Chicago high school. EVERYBODY THERE is in a gang. Not because they want to be, but because they live in a certain neighborhood and walk through certain other neighborhoods on the way to school. You don't "join" a gang, and there is no choice in the matter (short of moving to a wealthier neighborhood).

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 5:16pm

It's easy to say, don't feel guilty about it, it's not your fault, it doesn't even involve people you know. But if you do feel guilty, you have to work through it.

I will say this, if we focus on fixing the stuff that's wrong around us and, better yet, inside us, that'll go a heck of a longer way towards fixing this world than feeling bad for stuff that happens, in some cases, thousands of miles away and to people that we've never even talked to, let alone have any influence over.

The man with no sig

by coboney :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 7:06pm

That brings to mind an old poem I once read...

""I Wanted To Change The World"

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.

I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.

When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

Author: Unknown Monk 1100 A.D.

Also excellant piece Mike.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 7:31pm

Very nice, didn't know that one.

The man with no sig

by Rasputin (not verified) :: Tue, 07/02/2013 - 10:20am

We can use Google Translate to recover the original Latin:

Dum essem iuvenis voluisse mutare mundi. Vix mihi in hendrerit in mundo, mutare volui elit. Non inveni mutat genus oppido meo coepi dolor. Ut non mutat oppidum seniorem domus mutare volui. Iam senex, ego scio unum mobile me et mutavit repente iam pridem ego scio quod me domo mea ictum facere potuisset. Propinquos meos, et non possem facere ictum in oppidum. Quin et immutatione mutavit gens esset mutatio rerum.

by Sifter :: Mon, 07/01/2013 - 10:02pm

Well said. In this modern world it's really easy to post 'RIP Odin Lloyd' on Facebook or Twitter, pat yourself on the back and call yourself a good, understanding person. If you're truly upset, do something about it!