EVEN BEFORE the dramatic arraignment of Aaron Hernandez on a first-degree murder charge, the New England Patriots began pulling jerseys with Hernandez’s number from souvenir stands. It was a sign of the Patriots’ shrewd decision to cut ties with the troubled tight end at the first news of his arrest, and as the day went on the airwaves seemed refreshingly free of any teammates rushing to his defense. They, like most other observers of this sordid saga, seemed to understand both the seriousness of the accusations against Hernandez and the extent of his breach of faith with anyone who helped him or looked up to him.
But one could only guess at the feelings of the children who wore those Hernandez jerseys, and of the difficult conversations going on in the homes of Patriots fans around the region. Kids can throw away their shirts but can’t erase the memory of seeing the star receiver in handcuffs, with a blank expression, as a prosecutor detailed the long list of evidence against him.