Saturday, August 23, 2014

Murder and millions of dollars

Former football star Aaron Hernandez pleaded not-guilty to charges, but may still lose thousands in bonuses

Today’s athletes are real-life heroes to their many fans. But what happens when one of those stars is charged with first-degree murder? Or what about this: What happens when a team promises money to a player who is later arrested for first-degree murder? This is the case for former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez.

Hernandez — The NFL is withholding thousands of dollars in offseason workout bonuses. Google images

Hernandez — The NFL is withholding thousands of dollars in offseason workout bonuses. Google images

Hernandez was arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd June 26. When the New England Patriots became aware of the charges against Hernandez, they immediately cut him from their team.

Hernandez had signed a 5-year, $40 million contract with the team in 2012 to play through the 2018 season, but because of his murder charges, the NFL has stated that he has been suspended indefinitely.

Also, Hernandez was supposed to receive an $82,000 bonus from the team for completing their spring offseason training, and that is where the most current issue lies. According to Fox Sports, the money was supposed to be paid to Hernandez Aug. 1, but he did not receive it.

Here is the problem: The team is allowed to recover earnings from players who have been arrested, but the Patriots cut Hernandez from the team just after he was arrested June 26. According to the NFL, the Player’s Association is making a claim that since he no longer plays for the team, the Patriots cannot get that money back because Hernandez earned it during the offseason.

Hernandez had completed the requirements stated in his contract, and thus should be awarded the bonus. The problem for the Patriots is that they would be paying a player who will most likely never again be a part of the New England team.

Sounds like a huge waste of money.

According to the Associated Press, team owner Robert Kraft does not believe that Hernandez should be allowed his bonus.

“You can look at our history,” Kraft said. “We honor all our contracts, and we expect the people who sign them to honor their part of the contract.”

Although Hernandez has been in jail since his arrest in June, he did fulfill his contract. His $82,000 bonus was for the Patriots’ offseason training, and he completed what was asked of him. I believe that Hernandez ought to have the money promised him by the New England team. Yes, it is true that he can no longer play for the team, but Hernandez should not be cheated out of what is owed to him.

“I would have to say that the language of his contract should dictate that he receives his bonus as far as money is concerned,” Alex Stauch, a member of the leadership in Liberty University’s Criminal Justice Club, said.

The Hernandez case is ongoing, and the NFL Player’s Association is fighting for Hernandez’s right to the bonus. The fact that Hernandez cannot play should not be a reason for the Patriots to withhold the money. Hernandez is standing trial for first-degree murder, but it should not prevent him from getting what he was promised.

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