Regardless of how the Aaron Hernandez trial plays out in the courtroom, he’s already done a tremendous amount of damage in the court of public opinion. Aaron Hernandez has damaged the New England Patriots reputation worse than Zeke Mowatt and Spygate combined times 1000.
He’s been worse for the NFL than Mike Vick’s dogfighting and Ray Lewis accessory to murder allegations times 100. So how will NFL announcers handle this situation in 2013 when calling games?
Aaron Hernandez will inevitably come up this 2013 NFL season, even when the New England Patriots aren’t playing. So how will the league’s sportscasters talk about it? Three giants of the sportscasting world, Bob Costas, Jim Nantz and Dan Patrick weigh in.
Bob Costas: “Well Aaron Hernandez is an accused murderer. It’s not an opinion – it’s a simple statement of fact. When you run down the factors that affect the Patriots season, that’s one of the primary ones.
To acknowledge that in a forthright way isn’t even to editorialize. It’s just to acknowledge that that’s like acknowledging that today is Tuesday. So it’s pertinent and I would think the only question would be that play-by-play is different than a pre-game show or a halftime commentary, so it takes a little bit more of a juggling act to weave it in without getting in the way.
But a skillful play-by-play man and an analyst who’s willing to deal with it can address it. Football allows it – it has a different pace than other sports. They’re going to huddle up after every play. If you do it skillfully, you can get it in in a way that’s pertinent and doesn’t intrude on the action and acknowledges that you don’t have your head in the sand.”
Dan Patrick: “And I think that’s the key is you have to acknowledge it, but it’s the context in which you acknowledge it. If I’m doing highlights – I’m not going to mention it if I’m doing Patriots highlights and there’s a tight end who’s filling in for Hernandez or taken his place. But I think if we’re doing a feature on Aaron Hernandez it’ll be mentioned, maybe in the intro.”
Jim Nantz: “That’s one of the biggest questions to me this football season, how will the New England Patriots operate with the Aaron Hernandez story never going away? Here we are on the precipice of a new season, and we’re going to have an Aaron Hernandez arraignment on Friday. Obviously, they have disassociated Hernandez from the team but this whole season it’s never going to go away.
I thought Belichick handled it brilliantly at the opening of camp, he opened up his press conference by talking about it and saying where not going to go there again. Still what’s it going to look like, feel like up in New England this season with a whole lot of new players that will have to step up and have prominent roles?
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)