by Julia Vaccarella ’20 A&E Staff
When the true crime documentary series Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez recently aired on Netflix, many potential viewers assumed that the series would focus solely on his criminal status. While there is potential for content with that topic, the three-episode collection goes much further, touching upon topics ranging from Hernandez’s life before and after being drafted to the New England Patriots, to speculation about what caused his unfortunate demise.
Years before Hernandez was accused of killing the man that his fiancée’s sister was dating, as well as committing a double murder in Boston, he excelled as a high school football star in Connecticut. The series details the influence Hernandez’s dad had on him, both in regards to football and his personal life, insinuating that this relationship, coupled with who he began to associate with, could have possibly played a role in his behavior later in life.
Killer Inside also raises the question of Hernandez’s sexuality and his fear for how he would be perceived by his father and his teammates. Des Bieler of The Washington Post claims, “While the series is understandably incapable of fully explaining what drove Hernandez to forfeit his lucrative athletic career in favor of the criminality that eventually led to at least one homicide, Killer Inside posits at several points that his discomfort with his sexual inclinations, or at least the way they might be viewed by others, manifested itself in angry and occasionally violent outbursts.”
Throughout Hernandez’s first trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd, he was met with a solid amount of support, chiefly from his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, and his cousin, Tanya Singleton.
However, at the time of his second trial for the double murder in Boston, only his fiancée was present to support him, largely due to the guilty verdict found at the conclusion of the Lloyd case. Although Hernandez was found not guilty in this trial, it was discovered that he committed suicide in his jail cell just days later. As it is made clear in the series, this revelation shocked and confused many individuals given the timing.
“The series does draw attention to the numerous head injuries Hernandez sustained on the field—it even withholds until the end the heartbreaking reveal that even though he was just 27 when he died, Hernandez’s brain was completely impacted by CTE,” reports Aja Romano of Vox. While individuals with CTE have difficulty with issues such as “impulse control, decision-making, inhibition of impulses for aggression, emotional volatility, rage behaviors,” the documentary raises the point that other NFL players with the disease have not resorted to behavior as intense and criminal as that of Hernandez.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez does not come to a singular conclusion about Aaron Hernandez. Ultimately, though, the series does imply that he could have met a different end under different circumstances.