“Murder, She Wrote”: Aaron Hernandez [You read that right!]

"Now, I'm sorry, but that just does not make sense!" J.B. Fletcher- multiple episodes.

“Now, I’m sorry, but that just does not make sense!” J.B. Fletcher- multiple episodes.

“Murder, She Wrote” is a simply phenomenal American television show  about a little old lady played by Angela Lansbury–JB Fletcher–who is probably your grandma and who, confound it, just has people get murdered everywhere she goes. She’s also a mystery writer, which totally makes her super legit at figuring out who done it. The series ran from 1984-1996. It’s just that good.

Aaron Hernandez was an NFL football star for the New England Patriots. Quickly rising to fame as one of the most dangerous Tight Ends (a skill position that blocks and catches passes designated as TE), he was given a 40$ million contract from the Patriots. Shortly thereafter, he was put on trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd. He was cut from the team before that–merely for having the charges brought against him.

Why in the world am I talking about a TE in the NFL in the 2010s and a TV show that stopped in 1996? Because there is a pretty epic connection: Lloyd’s murder was sealed, in part, by testimony of a kind that often pops up in episodes of “Murder, She Wrote.”

The Episode

Here’s the stage:

Jessica [JB] Fletcher flies in to Massachusetts to visit with some of her friends there who have partial ownership of a company that pays a lot of money to the Patriots. They’re cruising around the facility and they meet with some of the players, including Hernandez. Jessica is impressed by his kind attitude and queries him more about the sport, something she has little familiarity with.

“What is it you do for the Patriots, Aaron?” she asks, leaning over the door of the convertible to get a better look at the man.
“I’m a Tight End,” he replies, with a smile.
“Oh my!” ejects JB, “That’s a bit forward of you! Are all NFL players so blunt?” She says it with a wink and a smile, but is clearly a bit befuddled.
“I’m sorry,” says Aaron, grinning more broadly now, “it’s not a reference to my ‘assets,’–I am referring to a position on the field. I block for the quarterback and then run routes. I’ve caught a bunch of touchdowns, and will keep doing so in the future.” He ends with a wink at a pat on the shoulder for J.B., who is still seated in the top-down convertible.
Flustered but bemused, J.B. replies, “Oh! I’m sorry, I know so little about the sport. Horse racing, fencing, tennis, baseball, I know pretty well, but Football? There was one time I watched a few games, but some poor chap got murdered during the get-go and I never fully caught on.”
At the word “murder,” the camera zooms in on Hernandez’s face, showing it go dark for a moment. Fletcher, as always, takes note for later. After he waves, he hops in his own car, popping out his cell phone and appearing to have a rather angry conversation with someone. He sees Jessica watching and closes the door, rolling up its tinted window as a brief ominous cord of music sounds.

Scene Two: Arrested

Skipping ahead a bit, a murder has occurred. Some young man who’d been seen around the Aaron Hernandez a bit had been shot six times! Scene: Patriots facility. Subjects: Jessica Fletcher, Aaron Hernandez, and Robert Kraft–the owner of the Patriots with whom J.B. and her friends had dinner with the previous evening. Kraft and Fletcher are walking together down the hall. Kraft spots Hernandez working out:

“J.B., mind if we stop in? I’d like to speak with Aaron for a moment, given all the news stories flying around,” Kraft asks.
“Of course!” Jessica follows Kraft into the weight room.
“Aaron, you’ve met Jessica, right?” queries Kraft.
“Yeah,” replies Hernandez, wiping his face with a towel and tossing it around his neck. “I’d shake hands but I’m a bit sweaty.”
“I understand,” says Jessica with a smile.
“Aaron, I’ll just get right to the point,” starts Kraft, “there’s a lot of talk in the news implicating you in the murder of that poor young man last night. I need to know right now, did you have anything to do with it?”
“I was not involved,” Hernandez says, meeting Kraft’s eyes, and then Jessica’s. “I am innocent. I really hope that the time of the murder comes out. I was at a club at the time it happened! Couldn’t have done it then, right?” He smiles.  [See ESPN for my source on these words in the conversation.]
Jessica’s eyes narrow, something is wrong with that statement, but she can’t quite put her finger on it.
“That’s all I needed to hear, Aaron, have a nice day!” Kraft nods to Hernandez, lightly touches Jessica’s arm, and they walk out together.
In the parking lot, as they get into the car for Kraft to give Jessica a ride back to her hotel, Jessica says “I’m sorry, but something just does not make sense. I just can’t put my finger on it.”

Later, the evidence seems strong enough that the police arrest Hernandez and the Patriots cut him from the team.

Scene Three: Convicted

At the murder trial, both Kraft and Jessica are called to the stand in turn. Jessica has got it figured out now.
“What was it Hernandez said to you, Mrs. Fletcher?”
Jessica recounts the exact words of Hernandez, then: “But there was something wrong with that. I couldn’t place it until just now. The time of the murder was never disclosed. Indeed, even after much examination it seems the exact time of death either was never revealed or could not be pinpointed to the right time. But how did Hernandez know the time? I still don’t know the time. But he was convinced he knew the exact moment of the murder, and told as much, and where he allegedly was at the time of the murder. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t add up.”

Based on the testimony of Kraft and Fletcher, and on top of a mound of physical and other evidence, Hernandez is convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Scene Four: Case closed

J.B. Fletcher and her friends are at a local restaurant, enjoying a plate of lobster.
“Looks like you sealed the case, Jessica!” one–Bob–says.
“Oh, I don’t know if it was me, Bob. It seems to me that in trying to claim his innocence, Hernandez just proved himself to be the guilty party. It’s a shame.”
“At least you got to eat some good lobster?”
“Indeed, though there’s no shortage of that in Maine!”
The episode ends with the whole group laughing, stopping on a shot of Jessica’s face lit up with a big smile.

Conclusion

I couldn’t resist writing this blog. It just is too perfect. The Hernandez case was–in part [and alongside what sounds like mounds of physical and circumstantial evidence]–was sealed just like an episode of “Murder, She Wrote.” If you liked the show, it might be worth looking into the case more. If you like awesome television, check out the TV series–it is fantastic. Hope you’ll drop a comment to let me know what you think, and follow my blog for more fun content.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

The image in this post is not my property but I use it under fair use.

SDG.

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NFL Conference Championship Round 2015 Picks

Well it’s time for the NFL Conference Championship round! Who’s going to win? Here are my picks (I was 3-1 last week in divisional round; picked Denver over Indy).

Colts at Patriots

As much as I dislike the Patriots, I think they have a very scary team, as usual. I would not want to play them right now, but the Colts get the draw and they have to visit the Patriots. I don’t think the Patriots get a huge home field advantage like some other teams have (see below), but I do think they have the Brady advantage. He’s just too good. I predict a costly turnover changes the game and turns it into a bit of a rout. 34-17 Patriots.

Packers at Seahawks

I’m once again going with the Seahawks here. I made the mistake of picking against them last year and that was a terrible choice. I’ve learned my lesson. A stifling defense and a top 10 offense playing in one of the loudest stadiums against a hobbled Aaron Rodgers? It’s honestly still tough because Rodgers is that good but I’m going with my gut and the Seahawks. If the Packers win it will be on the strength of Rodgers’ arm. But what I really think will happen is that a stiff Seahawks defense stands tall at the end of the game halting the Packers’ last drive in some dramatic fashion. Anyway, I call it being 24-17 Seahawks.

YOUR TURN

Do you think I’m crazy? What if I’m right? Let me know your picks and thoughts in the comments below.

NFL Divisional Round Picks 2015

Here I offer my picks, score predictions, and brief commentary. I’m fairly sure I’ll be wrong on all of these, but here goes!

Ravens at Patriots

Tom Brady at home with a great defense to help him? Sorry Ravens, I want you to win but I pick the Patriots to win this one 24-13. Flacco will finally throw a pick or two and that’ll be enough to win in what will be a fairly close-feeling game throughout. Patriots in control the whole game.

Panthers at Seahawks

As hilarious as it’d be to see a 7-8-1 team in the Conference championship game, I just don’t see this happening. I also made the error of picking against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl last year, something that still haunts me. I’m not making that mistake again, and definitely not against a team with a losing record. Seahawks win this with a solid defense effort and enough of a ground-and-pound game to score. 20-10 Seahawks.

Cowboys at Packers

Romo is on fire right now and he’s leading a fantastic offense with tons of weapons. Here’s the problem: Aaron Rodgers is on the other team. I really want the Cowboys to win but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. This is the one I feel least confident about, but I’m gonna pick the Packers at home winning in a shootout 31-28.

Colts at Broncos

Peyton Manning gets another shot at the Conference Championship and the Brady-Manning rematch is on. I expect this to be another close one but I think the Colts have a few deficiencies on their team–like running the ball and rushing the QB–that will sink them in this one. Broncos win 35-24.

What about you?

Let me know who’s going to win and how wrong I am on scores and picks in the comments!

Teddy Bridgewater: Over/Under on games into season till he starts

So when do you think Teddy Bridgewater will end up starting for the Vikings? I’m not a betting man at all, but I do enjoy speculating about such things.  I was talking about this with some coworkers and friends and based on those conversations the Over/Under would be 6 games into this season.

I’m honestly thinking it would be right around Game 6, but Matt Cassel is, in my opinion, a competent starter so I would take the “Over” on this. With a new coach in place there is not an urgency to win immediately this year and make the playoffs. However, having AP means they do need to try to win now while he’s still around. So I think if Cassel does struggle much there will be a greater urgency to pushing Bridgewater in to start. However, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the Vikings just benched him all year to learn the tricks of the trade.

What are your thoughts? When will Bridgewater start for the Vikings? Why will he start then?

 

My thoughts on the First Round of the NFL Draft 2014

Just briefly, I thought I’d write out my thoughts on the first round of the NFL Draft that happened yesterday.

1. Winners: BROWNS, Vikings

Yes, I picked these winners because they were exciting. It’s always interesting to see QBs drafted and multiple picks in a round. That said, I do think these two teams had the best day.

BROWNS: The browns were, in my opinion, the biggest winners of the day. They managed to fleece the Bills by moving back for not only their 9th overall selection, but also next year’s first rounder and fourth rounder. That’s a whole lot of team-building power. Then, they barely had to give up anything to take the 8th pick and take the guy they wanted anyway with a strong cornerback. Later, they used their accumulated mass of picks to trade up and nab Johnny Football, who, if nothing else, will sell tickets and bring a huge level of excitement to a fan base lacking it for some time. Seriously, even if Johnny Manziel doesn’t work out, they still have already set themselves up with an extra first-round pick next year.

I suspect Manziel will be decent, but not great. For the sake of some friends who are Browns fans, I hope he’s amazing. It would be exciting to see his style work in the NFL, and to see the Browns take that division again!

VIKINGS: The Vikings also did a nice job picking up an extra pick to swap places with the Browns, then nabbing a solid pass rusher. The best move they made, in my opinion, was to move back into the first round and take Bridgewater. Although I’m not completely sold on Bridgewater, I think that his alleged failure on a pro day and the like don’t show much. Numbers don’t lie and he’s had some awesome seasons. I expect him to end up as the starter for the Vikings by the end of the year. They’ve got a solid team and I think they could compete in the stacked NFC North.

2. Losers: Lions, Bills, Texans

LIONS: Eric Ebron is an exciting pick with a big upside, but I really hated this pick for the Lions. They desperately need help on defense and they have solid options at tight end. I’ll say it: I’m not at all sold on Pettigrew because of his drops, so I would have liked the Ebron pick except that he’s also questioned for having a number of drops. There’s nothing like seeing a perfect spiral pass bounce in and out of a tight end’s hands to make a fan base upset. If Ebron had solid hands to go along with his height and speed, I’d say this is a good pick to take some pressure off of Megatron, but for now it just seems like yet another weapon that’s going to be inconsistent due to drops. We’ll see, but I think defense was a better option here, not to mention that Fauria could, I think, be developed into more of a threat.

BILLS: Yes, they got Sammy Watkins who is a very exciting receiver, but they paid way too much for him. Two first rounders and a fourth round pick is an extremely steep price, but time will tell whether Watkins shows he deserved that kind of future-mortgaging. On the plus side, I do think this gives them a chance to see whether they can stick with EJ Manuel as their starter. He has been provided a ton of weapons now so now the Bills can see for sure what they have after a roller coaster rookie year from Manuel.

TEXANS: Yes, they got the premier player of this draft, but I really think they should have done anything they could to trade down. Rumors continue to abound that they were asking for three first round picks in exchange for this one. If there were an Andrew Luck, that would make sense, but no team would seriously consider that even for a sure thing at defense. Because the Texans asked too much, they didn’t get the opportunity to stockpile picks and talent. I think they could have gotten two first round picks and maybe a third and fourth. That would help them to plug an awful lot of holes in their roster. It will be interesting to see how Clowney does across from JJ Watt, though. The QBs in their division should be sweating.

Let me know your thoughts!

Football, sports, and violence: Should we use sports as a “hope” for children?

Recently, an article on ESPN about the violence in football offered the following explanation for why football will not go away:

It [the known effects of multiple concussions, etc.] also shouldn’t give people a reason to sell their kids on the notion that it’s not a sport worth playing. It’s easy to say that when you live in the White House or you’ve benefited from a nice, upper-middle class lifestyle. It’s a different story for those kids who grow up in inner-city projects or have few options of ever improving their own lives. Ask those families what football can do for them. Their parents won’t be so quick to condemn a sport that could open doors that would ultimately be closed to them later in life.

Really? Football is some kind of hope for kids with “few options”? I think this is absurd. How many of the kids who live on this dream actually grow up to play in the NFL? If the opportunity referenced is about scholarships there may be a point to it, but I think it is really depressing that when it comes to kids with few options, one of the first things that gets brought up is sports. I’m sorry, but sports is not a salve to these issues.

Giving kids the hope that they can play in the NFL or any other major sports league is not very realistic. I also think it sells children short. The general message that is given is that if you are born into a certain situation, the only way to pick yourself up out of that hard place is to play sports. Frankly, not everyone is gifted in sports, so this message presents a message of hopelessness.

So what do I suggest? Hey, I admit I am not an expert on this at all. I am not even sure I have any alternatives to suggest, but I think that we need to get beyond offering sports as a kind of dream. It’s not realistic to tell children that they can all go and be NFL stars or NBA stars or what-have-you. We need to work with children in their situation and work to change the situation. The salve for poverty and need is not to give a false hope that only one in thousands can even have a chance to achieve.

As a Christian, I have to say that we need to be praying about those in need. We need to use our gifts to forward the causes that help care for those who are in want. We need to get beyond offering false hopes and offer the true hope of Christ. I know for some that is groan-inducing. Allow me to explain: I’m not suggesting that just going around preaching the Gospel will magically reduce poverty and lead to world peace. What I am suggesting is that the Christian worldview, in all of its robust splendor, provides a motivation to care for those in need. It also provides a framework for viewing those in need not as people to whom we need to throw a bone in the form of false hope, but persons who are fellow imagers-of-God whom we are called to aid. There are no easy answers to all the needs of our time, but at least as Christians we are called to take on those needs head-on. I hope you’ll join me.

Finally, I’ll have you know that all of this comes from an avowed NFL fan. I love football. My point is we should not use it as a substitute for real hope.

Links

Don’t forget to check out my main site which focuses on religion, philosophy, and contemporary issues.

Here’s the article that touched off this issue for me: http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2012/story/_/id/8905129/super-bowl-xlvii-football-change-survive

 

Why NCAA Football is ridiculous

Look, I won’t hide my bias. I like the NFL a lot more than college ball. I was reminded of the reasons for this one more time this weekend.

Florida State was playing against Savannah State. I turned the game on because it was the only one I could get with a ranked team in it. I looked at the score. 28-0. Oh well, I thought, maybe Savannah State can mount a comeback. Then I realized there were 7:34 left in the FIRST QUARTER. Oh, and Savannah State hadn’t even gotten positive yardage yet. They were at -27. Wow. Seriously? It was 35-0 to close out the quarter.

This is why I think NCAA Football is often ridiculous. I’ll grant I like college ball, but these types of games are what really destroys it for me. This isn’t competitive. This is just a straight up slaughter.

Do I need to mention that going into the 2nd quarter, Florida State put their 2nd team defense on the field?

Yes, there are NFL games that can become non-competitive, but here’s the thing: in the NFL everyone has a realistic chance. They have access to relatively the same amount of money, and they’re allowed to spend about the same amount every year. Yes, some owners don’t spend all the way up to the cap, so they may not have as many superstars, but the point is they all have a chance.

In the NCAA, it seems like these ranked teams line up as many piece of junk teams as they can in order to throttle them to try to earn a higher place in the rankings. Then, they’ll put a few ranked teams on the schedule to see who actually might be better.

There’s no parity in the NCAA either. Top players go to the teams that are already good or have a system in place to be really good. Savannah State? Sorry, no luck.

So don’t get me wrong. Is there excitement in the college football season? Yes. But does it feel to me like the same level of excitement every week as the NFL? No. Why? Because there isn’t nearly as much parity. Oh well.

I don’t see any way to change that. Do you?

How did the game end? It got suspended due to weather. Florida State won by a paltry 55-0.