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Should you let your kid play football? Question swirls following release of Aaron Hernandez documentary

3-part Netflix special about Patriots tight end reignites the discussion

Aaron Hernandez smiles from the sidelines during a game vs. the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Aaron Hernandez smiles from the sidelines during a game vs. the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (2012 Getty Images)

The question seemed to keep popping up all weekend on social media and online parenting groups: “Would you let your child play football?”

* Please weigh in: Scroll to the bottom of this story if you’d like to cut to the chase and take our poll now.*

No doubt, this question arose in light of the three-part documentary, now out on Netflix, examining the meteoric rise and fall of the late New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

The special was released last Wednesday, but it seemed a lot of people tuned in once they got some time over the weekend.

The documentary, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez,” proved that more than two years after Hernandez killed himself in his prison cell, the former NFL star’s story still fascinates. Hernandez left behind a fiancee and a young daughter, along with his mother and brother.

The most jarring part of the series, in this author’s opinion, was hearing from doctors who had the chance to examine Hernandez’s brain.

After his death, doctors found Hernandez had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to concussions and other head trauma commonplace in the NFL.

Hernandez’s CTE was extremely advanced, especially considering his age. He was just 27 when he died.

To see his brain compared to an otherwise healthy one was shocking and disturbing. One of the doctors said Hernandez’s brain trauma appeared to have started at least a decade earlier -- which would mean, possibly when Hernandez was as young as 17.

Hernandez killed himself in prison in 2017 while serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

It’s never been clear as to what exactly prompted Lloyd’s murder.

Hernandez was accused of killing two other men -- Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, in 2012, after a confrontation at a nightclub -- but he was acquitted of most of those charges. Hernandez’s death came just days later.

When he was first arrested for Lloyd’s death, Hernandez had a five-year, $40 million deal with the Patriots.

The series was a long time in the making.

“Filmmakers and authors have had no shortage of material to work with in recounting the story of the handsome, polite athlete from Bristol, Connecticut, who was a high school standout and an All-American at the University of Florida before his three seasons with New England and subsequent fall from grace,” the Associated Press wrote in a late December report leading up to the Netflix documentary.

A state police report of the investigation into Hernandez’s death said the player wrote “John 3:16,” a reference to a Bible verse, in ink on his forehead and in blood on a cell wall. Hernandez’s story has already inspired a documentary aired on Oxygen, a “48 Hours” special and books by bestselling author James Patterson and Hernandez’s defense lawyer, Jose Baez.

We’ll leave you with those final questions, so that hopefully, you too can weigh in.

Anything else you want to discuss? Weigh in using the comment section.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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