The arrest of Aaron Hernandez has people talking. There’s a lot to talk about. The whole thing began strangely, and then it got stranger.
Among Patriot fans Thursday, there was little but dismay. Authorities were not only accusing the star tight end of orchestrating the assassination of his friend in a darkened industrial yard, but also investigating him in a double homicide a year before.
“As someone who invests a substantial amount of my time into being a Patriots fan, I feel duped,” said Nick Stevens, a comedian from Braintree.
“I bought into this guy, I bought into the idea that Belichick was smarter than everyone when he took a chance on this guy in the fourth round, despite his ‘character issues,’” Stevens said, referring to predraft reports that referred to marijuana use and some questionable friends during his time at the University of Florida.
Around the country, Patriots hating is an art, and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have given the haters more than a decade of material to get good at it.
But the crime Hernandez is charged with goes much deeper than Spygate and the tuck rule and the cocky fans.
It will be the sort of tarnish Ray Lewis brought to the Baltimore Ravens after he was initially charged in a double murder, said David Sullivan, a carpenter and Patriots season-ticket holder who was eating lunch on Revere Beach. It will give Patriots haters a big pulpit to stand in.
‘It’s been an incredible chance to watch someone do a good job making themselves look guilty.’
In some quarters, the head-shaking took the form of disgust that a young man who had looked so intelligent on the field looked so brutally stupid off it.
Not only did he allegedly commit a heinous crime, some said, but his attempt to cover up was comically inept.
“It’s been an incredible chance to watch someone do a good job making themselves look guilty,” Matt Weldon, a Pats fan, said as he waited for his order at Kelly’s on Revere Beach.
“It’s like he’s never watched a cop show,” said Halina Butler, who lives in the Leather District.
Prosecutors say Hernandez returned a rental car with a spent shell casing in it, smashed his cellphone, and failed in his attempt to destroy his home security system, which they say produced video of Hernandez and another suspect coming through the door carrying handguns.
But it was the sense of betrayal that weighed heavy.
Stevens has a comedy routine online in which he plays a fictional belligerent Patriots fan named Paul “Fitzy” Fitzgerald.
The character has made a cottage industry of Ray Lewis jokes, while worshipping Hernandez.
Now Stevens says there is egg on his face.
“I made merchandise with this guy on it, and now we’re told he’s a murderer. He duped us all. He made us think he wasn’t that guy that deserved to fall to the fourth round, who wasn’t a gangbanger, even though he had the tattoos. He’s made the Patriots look bad; he’s made every fan look bad. We thought we were smarter than anybody else.”Billy Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @billy_baker.