The Dark Side of Athletes

Athletes, while unlike us mere mortals from the standpoint that they make millions and millions of dollars and are known from here to Timbucktu, are actually just like us in the sense that they make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Heck, the captain of the Titanic made a huge mistake missing that giant chunk of ice that night (too soon?) The Queen has laughed at the Royal Guard, etc etc. Just like us, athletes don’t remember to pick up their drycleaning, they lock themselves out of their houses, they get arrested for murder. Yep, definitely slid that last one in there on ya. Now as sad and terrible as it is when anyone’s life is taken, the feeling is seemingly multiplied when it comes from the hands of people we’ve looked up to and essentially idolized.

If you’ve been on Yahoo! or any other news home page recently, or turned on a tv or read the paper, you’ve heard or seen the name Aaron Hernandez. Who is he and why is he in this blog? Hernandez used to be, before being dropped right after being arrested, a tight end for the New England Patriots. This is a kid with some mishaps in the past, he’s been arrested and questioned and was even sued for shooting a guy’s eye out. And when I say kid I mean it, the youngin is only 23. Despite his history, he was still chosen  in the 4th round by Bill Belichek (Patriots head coach). And now, he’s found himself in the spotlight again not for scoring touchdowns but rather for the fact that he has been charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd, a man that happened to be his fiance’s sister’s boyfriend. (Insert “Dun Dun Dun” sound effect here)

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As terrible as this case is, there have been a number of athletes who have found themselves in the same kind of trouble. Below you will find some of the most, I say famous but it seems like such a wrong word to use here,famous athletes and their very high profile murder cases. Now just so you loyal readers know, this blog is by no means giving an opinion one way or the other, I am merely stating the facts. Kind of like the attorneys did. In these cases. (Read those with dramatic pauses after the periods) But seriously, no opinions will be rendered.

The mac daddy of them all, OJ. And no, not the yummy Vitamin C laden breakfast drink that sometimes finds itself mixed with pineapple, or vodka, I’m talking about O.J. Simpson, the famous Heisman Trophy Winner who since his playing days, has become even more famous for his orange jumpsuits. You may actually know OJ’s name, a certain Kardashian father was one of Simpson’s defense lawyers. Yes, Khloe, Kim, Kourtney, and Rob’s dad. Not creepy botox dad Bruce Jenner. Anyways, Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson (friend of a one Kris Kardashian/Jenner) and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman. A few things to know from this case: First, the White Bronco chase. Police chased Simpson and a driver around Los Angeles for 8 hours, after he wouldn’t turn himself in, until the chase finally ended outside his home in Brentwood, California. The reason the chase took so long? Simpson apparently was in the back seat with a gun to his head. The trial itself lasted over 6 months and was publicized on Court TV as well as national channels. The prosecution used DNA evidence, shoe prints, and one huge piece of evidence, a leather glove. Now about this piece of evidence: One single glove was found at the crime scene, with the DNA of both victims and Simpson on it. Not only that, but there was also a piece of blond hair on the glove, this hair belonging to none other than Nicole Brown. Simpson was asked to try this glove on during the trial and as a surprise to many, it did not fit. Leading to the famous saying by lead defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran, “If the glove don’t fit you must acquit.” Now, the prosecution believed it didn’t fit because of the glove having been soaked with blood and frozen and unfrozen numerous times during the course of the case. Racism also played a part in this case, as defense attorneys went after the Los Angeles Police Department saying they were looking to frame Simpson. Race was an issue outside the country and across the country. Magazines with OJ’s picture on the front had his face in varying shades of darkness, and wouldn’t ya know, people were outraged. As many different views as there were in this case, the only ones that mattered were those of the jury, who ended up finding OJ not guilty, a verdict that an estimated 100 million people throughout the United States watched. Dominos Pizza even went to say that in the 5 minutes the verdict was being read, no pizzas were delivered. Good thing they didn’t have that 30 minute guarantee back then, ya know what I’m sayin?

Ray Lewis is a recently retired Super Bowl Champion, former Baltimore Raven football player. And just like O.J., he was too charged with murder. Here’s the sitch: After Super Bowl 34 (which the Ravens were not playing in, I don’t know why that is relevant but bam, there ya go) Lewis and a few of his buds got into a bit of a scuffle outside of a party in Atlanta. Except this wasn’t your average schoolyard brawl … there were knives involved. (I certainly hope you don’t consider that an average scuffle. If you do, I apologize if that in anyway offended you) Two men were stabbed to death in the fight, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, and Lewis and two of his amigos were charged with murder and aggravated assault. Lewis plead guilty not for murder, but rather for obstruction of justice. This plea came after he struck a deal with the prosecution for testimony against the two other persons involved. (Some friend eh?) Even so, Lewis never directly linked his friends to the murders and they were acquitted. Some facts: Baker’s blood was found in Lewis’ limo that night and the white suit Lewis was wearing has never been found. (I guess he decided that the “No White After Labor Day Rule” should actually last all year round) Lewis was given one years probation by the Court and punished by the NFL with a $250,000 fine. When the case is brought up today, which it still is, some 13 years later, Lewis speaks about God’s glory. The murders themselves are still unsolved.

And I don’t want to pin the NFL any more than I already have but according to BusinessInsider, 27 NFL players have been arrested since the Super Bowl ended. In February. Also, check out this post on NFL arrests by team, it’s crazy: http://www.businessinsider.com/nfl-arrests-charts-2013-6

The last famous athlete I’ll give you the rundown on in this post is Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter. First off, if you haven’t seen the movie Hurricane (based on the famous boxer’s life, murder charge included) with the one and only Denzel Washington, go watch it/rent it/and subsequently love it now. Oh and also listen to Hurricane by Bob Dylan. It’s based on the case too. Anywho, Rubin Carter was a professional boxer when he was charged, along with John Artis, with a triple homicide that took place at a bar & grill in New Jersey in 1966. The two were tried and convicted not once but twice, in  1967 and again in 1976. Now on the night in question, two black males went into this bar and started shooting, neither being identified as Carter and Artis. In fact one of the victims, Willie Marins, who left the incident with a head injury that took the sight from his left eye, identified Carter as not one of the shooters. Another eye witness said that the lights belonging to the shooter’s car were different than the lights on Carter’s and no bloodstains were ever found on any of Carter or Artis’ belongings. The state did however produce two “special witnesses” and special they were indeed. These two, Alfred Bello and Arthur Dexter Bradley, openly admitted a plan to rob a bank on the night in question. They also testified that it was Carter and Artis they saw leaving the crime scene. They were found guilty. But, this case doesn’t end there. In 1975, Bello recanted his testimony and said that he lied in court because of the promise of favorable treatment by police. In 1976, Carter and Artis were freed after the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the initial decision and both men were freed on bail, most of which it turns out, was posted by none other than Muhammad Ali. The freedom was short lived and soon after being released, the two men were indicted again in 1976. Bello again changed his story and said it was in fact Carter and Artis he saw leaving the bar. And this time around, another card played in this trial. That of the race card. It turns out that shortly before and quite near where this crime took place, a white man had shot a black bartender. A group of angry African Americans gathered outside the bar. The prosecution used that knowledge and called that motive for Carter and Artis, saying it was their way of getting revenge, it was payback. The two were convicted again. Rubin Carter’s imprisonment finally ended in 1985 when Carter’s lawyers petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. This basically says that under a person under arrest has to be brought before a judge or court, mainly to ensure that no one is being detained unlawfully. Judge Sarokin of New Jersey dismissed the case after stating that the prosecution “predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure.” Basically, the prosecution had no basis, just a crap load of bias. After 20 years, the Hurricane was finally free.

I hope this information was helpful in understanding some of these very high-profile athletes and the legal troubles they found themselves in, I certainly know that this kind of stuff isn’t the most fun topic there is out there. I hope some of the sarcastic comments made it a bit more enjoyable. But hey, now you know what’s going on with Aaron Hernandez and next time the Kardashians are on, you can totally impress your guy with one of the reasons they became famous (no comment from me on any of the other reasons)

Have a great weekend!

Court

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