It’s not just being ‘dumb’

By: By Mac McPhail - Contributing columnist

It was a tragic end to a sad story. Former professional football player, Aaron Hernandez, was found dead recently in his jail cell. He apparently committed suicide by hanging himself with the sheet from his bed. Hernandez was serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, for his conviction in a 2013 murder case.

You may have heard about Aaron Hernandez. He was a tight end football player for the New England Patriots. Back in 2013, Hernandez was a 23 year old star player, and had just signed a nearly $40 million contract with the Patriots. It was felt that he had an unlimited potential and a great future in pro football. But his football contract was voided and he was cut from the team. Aaron Hernandez was eventually convicted of first degree murder.

So what happened? Although a multimillionaire football star, Hernandez apparently still liked to run and have a good time with his old gang from his neighborhood and do the things that type of crowd likes to do. There had been problems with the law all along, which finally ended up with the murder charge.

Back in 2013, when the charges were brought against Hernandez, Colin Cowherd, an ESPN sports talk radio host, made a comment about Hernandez that was interesting. He said, “Dumb has its moments. But it doesn’t have a long shelf life.” The radio talk show host talked about how doing dumb things can be fun at the time, and that they make for some good stories. But it doesn’t last. Like he said, dumb doesn’t have a long shelf life.

Dumb does have its moments. Most of us probably have stories of when we were young and not so smart. They make for fun stories to relive, and they may have been fun while we were in the middle of them. I loved to hear of such stories about my kinfolk. And I have a couple of those stories.

Those adventures in being dumb do often make for good stories later on. But more often, being dumb ends up with a story that you just as soon forget. But sometimes you can’t forget, because of the consequences of those dumb actions. And those consequences may affect you, and those around you, for the rest of your life. Probably just about everyone reading this are living with results of dumb actions in the past, either your own, or someone close to you.

In 2013, Colin Cowherd concluded his radio comments about Aaron Hernandez by noting that you seldom see a successful older person still doing dumb things. Food, like produce and bread, only has a limited shelf life. For awhile it may look good on the shelf. Then it goes bad and is discarded. For awhile, dumb may be fun and look good. But only for a limited time. Like the produce and bread, it can go bad. And in the case of Aaron Hernandez, it can go tragically bad.

Cowherd described the actions of Hernandez as “dumb.” We may call his actions, and when we do such things in our lives, “stupid,” “crazy,” or “irresponsible.” There’s another word that can be used, but seems so old fashioned in today’s culture. The word is “sin.” But maybe recognizing certain behavior as sin can help avoid its consequences. It’s not just being dumb and stupid.

Aaron Hernandez could have been catching passes from Tom Brady this past football season. He could now be wearing another Super Bowl ring after another New England Patriot championship season. But he is not. Hernandez was buried last Monday in a private funeral service back in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut.

The story of this former football star reminds me of a saying I heard many years ago. It’s still true today, probably more so. It is simply, “Sin can take you further than you planned on going. You’ll stay longer than you planned on staying, and you’ll pay more than you planned on paying.” You need to look no further than the tragic life and death of Aaron Hernandez to see its truth.

By Mac McPhail

Contributing columnist

Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at

Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at