American football has long been riddled with stories of murder and violence — from players beating their wives and partners, to O.J. Simpson being accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. No player’s actions have been quite so baffling, however, as that of Aaron Hernandez, whose story will be told on Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, a three-part Netflix docuseries, which is set to premiere on January 15th.
“No one has allegedly killed two people and then played an entire season as a professional athlete,” a voiceover intones at the start of the trailer for the series, setting up the absurdity of Hernandez’s story. From 2007 to 2013, he’d been either a suspect or a defendant in six shootings in which three people were killed. And, in the midst of all that, he was a star player at the University of Florida (despite getting into hot water over marijuana use), entering the NFL draft in 2010 and signing with the Patriots. In 2012, he signed a $39.5 million five-year contract extension with the team.
The trailer for the upcoming doc digs into the “why” of the situation: How did a boy from Bristol, Connecticut, find his way to drugs, violence and gangsters? It hints at the early death of his father, an ex-thug who turned his life around only to die in 2006 of complications due to hernia treatment. Hernandez was only 16 years old, and the boy apparently idolized his dad.
“He was the perfect dad: He went to every scrimmage, and got ’em up at dawn to work out,” Brandon Beam, an insurance agent in Southington who played against Hernandez in practice each day as a cornerback for Bristol Central, told Rolling Stone in 2013.
Some of the blame for Hernandez’s transformation into a violent man seems to be cast on the football player’s mother, Terri, who was arrested in 2001 in a statewide sting for booking bets on sports.
“I was the happiest little kid in the world and you fucked me up,” Hernandez is heard saying in the trailer in a jailhouse phone call to his mother. “I had nobody. What did you think I was going to do? Become a perfect angel?”
Still, journalist Dan Wetzel opines that Hernandez was “extremely terrified of his father,” so it’s unclear what the family dynamic truly was. The trailer also cites Hernandez’s history of concussion-related injuries, which could lead to CTE, the protein that causes dementia and brain damage in victims of concussions and brain trauma.
Whys aside, Hernandez was arrested on June 26th, 2013 for killing his friend Odin Lloyd, and in 2015, he was found guilty of Lloyd’s murder. When he killed himself in April 2017 — after he was declared not guilty of the double homicide of two office cleaners, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado — he had spent more time behind bars than on the field with the NFL.