Nature versus nurture.
It’s an age-old question – one that John Kincade, who was filling in Monday as host of The John Feinstein Show, asked CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel about fallen star Aaron Hernandez.
Doyel didn’t hesitate.
“It is absolutely nature,” he said. “You are what you are. In dramatic situations, people can be changed; they can improve or they can devolve. But you are what you are.”
Doyel took it a step further.
“Aaron Hernandez is evil,” he said. “And I don’t think anything happened at Florida or New England or (anywhere) else is going to change the fact that – if he’s guilty of what they say he’s guilty of – he’s evil. And that wasn’t going to change because he got suspended against Auburn.”
Kincade questioned Hernandez’s thought process in choosing to attend Florida. Did he choose the Gators to escape the bad influences that surrounded him in his hometown of Bristol, Conn., or did he go there because he knew he’d fit right in?
“It’s hard to answer,” Doyel said. “It really comes down to one thing: (his recruiting visit). We don’t know what happened those two days. It’s a small sample size. We don’t know what he experienced that one day in Gainesville. And to be an evil guy and to have evil characteristics doesn’t mean that every single day of your life you’re evil. It just means that eventually (it’ll) come out.”
The catalyst, many believe, may have been the death of his father, who died when Hernandez was in high school.
“That rocked his world,” Doyel said. “My suspicion is, when he was a high school senior, he chose Florida because he thought Urban Meyer might be a father figure. He saw something in Urban good that he thought would help him along, and for whatever reason it didn’t work out.”
Hernandez had various run-ins with the law at Florida and admitted to smoking marijuana, which led to a suspension.
Some, like Doyel, wonder what would have happened had Hernandez been dismissed from the team. It’s conceivable – perhaps almost certain – that another college would have recruited him the following year, but it’s also conceivable that Hernandez would have returned to Bristol and fallen in with the same bad influences that he encountered as a teen.
Had Hernandez been dismissed, Doyel opined, Odin Lloyd might still be alive, but Hernandez would probably be “the scum of the earth” in Connecticut.
“All Urban Meyer did by keeping him around was allow Hernandez to go to the next level, where his evil would come out on a bigger stage,” Doyel explained. “But evil’s evil. He was coming out.”
Still, being drafted by the Patriots didn’t exactly help matters. New England is a tight-ship franchise – publicly, anyway – but Hernandez was less than two hours from his hometown. Would this saga have played out the same way if he had been drafted by, say, the Green Bay Packers or Kansas City Chiefs?
“Of all the facts involved here, the one that really hurt him the most was being back home, being back near Connecticut – because he was back with people he knew,” Doyel said. “Having said that, I think wherever (you go, your true self comes out). It was going to happen.
“Again, evil trumps all – and the evil in Aaron Hernandez came out.”