Why is the Boston Globe doing a six-part Spotlight series on Aaron Hernandez?

Alex Reimer
October 12, 2018 - 11:31 am

It’s been five-and-a-half years since Aaron Hernandez was arrested for Odin Lloyd’s murder. In that time, we’ve been subjected to an avalanche of coverage about Hernandez exploring every facet of his life, from his turbulent upbringing in Connecticut to an alleged secret boyfriend. His story has been told in seemingly every medium –– articles, documentaries, books, Dr. Phil interviews –– and there doesn’t appear to be much left to say. Within the last nine months alone, there’s been a little-read James Patterson book, pro-Hernandez TV special for the Oxygen network and Jose Baez-written biography. 

But the Boston Globe is adding to the saturation of coverage. The Spotlight team will release a six-part Hernandez special next week, chronicling everything from his childhood up until his posthumous CTE diagnosis. The Globe’s website says “through documents and audio recordings, some never before made public, and interviews with key people who have never before spoken, the Globe’s Spotlight Team has compiled the story of a profoundly troubled young man and the ugly underside of America’s most popular sport.”

There’s no doubt Hernandez is one of the most captivating journalist subjects imaginable. He was an immensely talented football player who was accused of murdering three people at the height of his NFL career. There are so many contradictions, which is why so many pieces and stories have been dedicated to him over the last half-decade. 

The question is: what has the Globe uncovered that we don’t already know? Psychologists have analyzed the impact of Hernandez’s father’s death, journalists have poured through his police records from his time at Florida through the Boston double-murder and all the way up to the Lloyd slaying. His fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, has told her story to anybody who will listen. NFL Insiders have educated us on Bill Belichick's suggestion to Hernandez about purchasing a safehouse. It’s difficult to see how much more the Globe Spotlight team, or any outfit, could add to the story at this point.

Outside of tawdry gossip about Hernandez’s sexual orientation –– which was tastelessly explored in the Oxygen Network documentary and Baez book, and frankly, should be beneath the Globe –– the last remaining puzzle piece is determining how much of an impact Hernandez’s severe case of CTE had on his violent behavior. That’s relevant to all football players, and not just Hernandez. 

But the Globe is only dedicating its last episode to Hernandez’s brain trauma. The other five appear to be rehashes of everything we’ve already been told. We’ve even read Hernandez’s suicide notes at this point. 

Hernandez hung himself in his jail cell in April 2017, and was diagnosed with CTE that fall. This Spotlight series seems like it’s at least one year too late.