Much has been made recently of Aaron Hernandez's past at Florida. As the former Patriots tight end sits in jail, facing a murder charge, every speck of trouble from his past bubbles up to be scrutinized by the seething public.
It's worth noting, then, in the interest of being fair, that Hernandez was apparently never a problem for New England once they drafted him. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe wrote as much in his Sunday notes column, including making the point that Hernandez never failed a drug test while playing for the Pats.
"For three years in New England, Hernandez did everything Bill Belichick asked of him football-wise, according to a team source," Volin writes. "He showed up to meetings and practices on time, practiced hard, stayed in shape, was very coachable, and starred on the field, scoring 18 touchdowns in three seasons.
"Just as importantly, he didn't fail one NFL drug test in three seasons."
This isn't necessarily shocking news: Hernandez never missed time or was in trouble for off-field issues in the NFL before this offseason. If a high-profile player with red flags in his past like Hernandez was failing drug tests, it stands to reason that it would've become public knowledge. Nonetheless, it does serve as a reminder that seeing this coming for Hernandez is a lot easier with the benefit of hindsight.
It also doesn't mean that everything was sunshine and roses when it came to Hernandez. There were obviously problems in his life when he came out of Florida. Urban Meyer can say whatever he wants, but the reality is Hernandez fell to the fourth round of the draft for a reason.
Clearly part of it had to do with the people that Hernandez spent time with off the field.
In fact, Volin also reports in his Sunday piece that Hernandez "would tune out and occasionally become angry when a coach or employee suggested he stop hanging out with some of his old friends."
That's a theme as old as time itself: tough kid bristling at authority figures who tell him to find better friends. It's also not a stunner that Hernandez wouldn't be thrilled at the idea of turning a cold shoulder on his childhood friends.
But for a kid who appeared to spend so much time rehabilitating his image and his life after turning pro, his refusal to do so may have ended up being his own undoing.