Shutdown Corner

Could Aaron Hernandez actually play in the NFL once again if he’s freed?

Jay Busbee
Shutdown Corner

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Aaron Hernandez. (Getty Images)

There are many ways to burn bridges with your former employer, but finding yourself arrested, imprisoned, indicted and associated with two separate homicide investigations has to rank way up there in "things you'll have to explain in a future job interview."

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Even so, there's at least some suggestion that jailed former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez might be able to play football again were he to avoid life in prison. Paul Solotaroff, who wrote the Rolling Stone article profiling Hernandez' history published this week, indicates that Hernandez could have a future playing ball.

"I think [the case] is not only beatable, I think he will be back in the NFL within three or four years," Solotaroff said on the Doug Gottlieb Show. "I think they've grossly overcharged him based on the case they're building — no direct eye witness, no murder weapon, no plausible motive."

That's a stunning sentiment given the last eight weeks of information, but Solotaroff broke down the issue on judicial lines. "His principal nemesis at this point is likely to be the five gun charges levied against him; I think they got him dead to right on most of those," Solotaroff said. "But as crazy as it sounds, this is a guy with no priors. So asking a judge to sentence Hernandez to consecutive prison bids — rather than contemporary ones — is going to be a very hard sell for the prosecution. And if in fact he winds up doing three years behind [bars for] those gun charges — which would be a lot in this case — he's 26, 27, with very low mileage on those legs of his and a lot of time to heal up. My sources tell me there will be more than one NFL team pursuing him hotly when he walks out of jail in four years."

There's a lot of supposition in that theory, but as has been noted before, conviction of Hernandez is no sure thing. And while the Rolling Stone article has come in for criticism based on its handling of Hernandez's days at the University of Florida, is it so impossible to think that another NFL team could take a chance on Hernandez if he were cleared of all but the weapons charges? Michael Vick was found guilty of a series of heinous charges — please note that this is not intended to equate murder charges with animal cruelty — and yet he's back to being the Eagles' starting quarterback.

In the end, it's all but certain that Hernandez's playing days are behind him, whether or not he's a free man in coming years. Still, there's always the possibility. America does love a redemption story.

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