A Tale of Two “Patriots”

June 27th, 2013

Tim Tebow and Aaron Hernandez have a history and much in common.

Together they played for the University of Florida Gators football team where they won a National Championship.  Playing tight end, Hernandez was one of the go to guys for Heisman winner and team quarterback, Tim Tebow.

Both went on to the NFL.  While publicly popular, Tebow struggled playing for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets.  Recently, he joined the New England Patriots.  He’s not a pauper by any means, but his NFL salary is nothing compared to other players in the league.

By contrast, Hernandez flourished in the NFL.  Considered one of the best tight ends in the game, playing with Tom Brady and one of the most successful franchises in the league, last year Hernandez signed a $40 million dollar contract.

As a professional athlete, Tebow experienced disappointment and frequent ridicule despite being a true model sports figure.  By contrast, Hernandez has been nothing but successful and incredibly respected as a player.

That is until this week when Hernandez was indicted for murder.

Evidently, this wasn’t Hernandez’s first brush with the law.  He experienced numerous problems while playing for the Gators and is currently defending a lawsuit for allegedly shooting someone else.  Reports today indicate he is a suspect in a double homicide in 2012.

Clearly, Hernandez was screaming trouble. Still, nobody seemed to care.  What Hernandez did on the field was always going to be more important than what he did in his “personal life” until he allegedly shot and killed a man execution style.  That proved to be even a bridge too far for professional sports.  The Patriots released him following his arrest. Sadly, I wonder if my own Dallas Cowboys would have done the same thing.  Actually, I don’t really need to wonder.  I seriously doubt they would.

Meanwhile, Tebow who is a proud Christian and great example as an athlete and a human being lives under negative media scrutiny and general derision in many circles.  My boys enjoy ESPN.  It’s always interesting to hear what that network is saying about Tebow.  Needless to say, it’s rarely glowing.

I understand that Tebow isn’t a picture perfect NFL quarterback.  Still, he has proven to be a winner having brought the Broncos back from a disastrous season start a couple of years ago to a divisional playoff victory.  Despite that, he’s been forced to deal with some of the most hateful media coverage imaginable.

Guys like Hernandez, on the other hand, sail through their careers and make a king’s ransom playing football.  For the most part, they can do some extremely vile things that you certainly wouldn’t want your kids to emulate unless you’re Ma Barker, and no one says a word.  That is until they actually kill someone.  Even then, it’s not always clear how hard the media will come down on them.

Yesterday, reporters were talking about Tebow and Hernandez.  They weren’t discussing the contrast in good versus evil.  No, they were discussing whether Tebow can convert to tight end now that Hernandez is gone and take his place.  A man is murdered and this is what the media is discussing.

I hope Tebow has a successful and peaceful year with the Patriots and that Hernandez gets the justice he deserves.

More than anything, though, I hope Americans wake up and realize that there is more to sports than purely what someone is capable of on the playing field.

Character matters, too.