Raiders

Aaron Hernandez hangs himself in prison cell

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AP

Aaron Hernandez hangs himself in prison cell

BOSTON -- Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in the prison cell where he was serving a life sentence for murder, officials said Wednesday, the same day his ex-teammates on the New England Patriots were set to visit the White House to mark their Super Bowl victory.

His death came just days after the 27-year-old athlete was acquitted in a second murder case.

Guards found Hernandez just after 3 a.m., Correction Department spokesman Christopher Fallon said. The onetime tight end was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead about an hour later.

Hernandez had been housed in a single cell in a general population unit at the maximum-security state prison in Shirley. He tried to jam the cell door to prevent guards from opening it and hanged himself with a bedsheet tied to a window, Fallon said.

Fallon said he was not aware of any suicide note. He said officials had no reason to believe Hernandez might take his life, and if they had had any such worries, he would have been transferred to a mental health unit.

The Worcester County district attorney's office and the Correction Department are investigating.

Hernandez's lawyer, Jose Baez, said he will conduct his own investigation.

"There were no conversations or correspondence from Aaron to his family or legal team that would have indicated anything like this was possible," he said in a statement.

"Aaron was looking forward to an opportunity for a second chance to prove his innocence. Those who love and care about him are heartbroken and determined to find the truth surrounding his untimely death."

The Patriots had no immediate comment.

Hernandez helped the University of Florida win the 2008 NCAA championship, but he dropped to the fourth round of the NFL draft because of his behavior in college, where he failed a drug test, he was accused of punching a bar employee, and his name came up in an investigation into a shooting.

He was a productive tight end for the Patriots for three seasons, catching 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns in his second year to help the team reach the Super Bowl. In 2012, he signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension.

But the team released him in 2013 after he was arrested in the killing of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. He was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.

Last Friday, Hernandez was acquitted in the deadly 2012 drive-by shootings of two men in Boston. Prosecutors said he gunned them down after one of them accidentally spilled a drink on him in a nightclub.

As the jury was deliberating last week, cameras spied Hernandez blowing kisses to the young daughter he fathered with fiancée Shayanna Jenkins.

His death was "a shocking and sad end to a very tragic series of events that has negatively impacted a number of families," said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn, who prosecuted Hernandez in the Lloyd case.

Prosecutors suggested Lloyd may have been killed to keep him quiet about the 2012 Boston killings.

Marshawn Lynch should address why he sat for national anthem

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USATI

Marshawn Lynch should address why he sat for national anthem

NAPA – Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem during Saturday’s exhibition opener against Arizona. We’re still not sure why.

It’s assumed by many to be in protest of racial inequality and mistreatment of minorities, a timely sentiment following racially fueled violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Uncertainty remains because the Raiders running back hasn’t explained his reasoning. He contemplated speaking after Tuesday’s practice but decided against it.

That leave us left to wonder what was going through Lynch’s head. Was this a case of Marshawn being Marshawn, an unorthodox fellow who often swims upstream? Was he simply enjoying a seat and a banana, or was it politically motivated and worthy of being lumped into national anthem protests by Colin Kaepernick and others in 2016 and Michael Bennett on Sunday?

It seems that way while connecting dots, especially with Lynch’s support for Kaepernick in a 2016 interview with Conan O’Brien. The public doesn’t know for sure. Bennett made his protest crystal clear on Sunday, with an eloquent explanation following Seattle’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Lynch could’ve cleared things up and didn’t. That leaves many left to wonder. Silence, in these cases, breeds speculation. We’ll try to avoid that here. Lynch doesn’t speak to the press, and I don’t mind a bit. This instance is an exception. Insight could direct this unguided narrative with a tweet, a statement or a few moments in front of a microphone. His message, if there is one, loses power without backing. If it was designed to illuminate issues in this country, Lynch must direct the spotlight. If his choice to sit wasn't socially charged, then let's put the issue to bed and re-focus on Raiders football.

It’s uncertain whether Lynch will address it this week, this season or ever.

The Raiders hope to avoid the topic altogether and let this incident blow over. It hasn’t been a major topic in the locker room. Head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t add anything in his Tuesday press conference, referring to a Saturday postgame statement on the matter where he called it a non-issue.

The Raiders’ belief, it seems, is that a fire won’t burn without fuel.

Del Rio strongly believes in standing for the national anthem. That’s been clear for a year, when he expressed that sentiment following Kaepernick’s anthem protests.

That didn’t stop Raiders linebackers Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith from holding up a fist during the national anthem a few times in 2016, though those actions didn’t last long.

Del Rio said Saturday that he respects the fact Lynch is his own man and hasn’t always stood for the national anthem. There were times in Seattle when he wasn’t present for the Star Spangled Banner. There were times he sat and times he stood at attention. He was never asked whether it was a form protest. Kaepernick started the movement last year, one Lynch couldn’t join while retired from football.

There’s no telling what Lynch will do Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams, the first time he’ll represent the Raiders in Oakland. No matter what he does, it’ll be news. With or without an explanation. Lynch doesn’t feel the need to satisfy public demand for insight, and won’t simply bow to public pressure.

Anthem protests can bring attention to social causes, but they’re polarizing to be sure. That’s the case in public, among football fans and cable-news junkies alike.

NFL locker rooms are full of different personalities, united under a common goal. Del Rio wants his guys focused only on that heading toward a season with lofty expectations.

“We want to have a collection of individuals that come together as a team to play football,” Del Rio told USA Today’s Lindsay Jones. “We don't need everybody in the organization to think the same way I think, or have the same feelings that I have about different topics.

“I mean, we're in America. That's one of the things we have. We have the freedom to be ourselves.”

Lynch is certainly his own man, a unique personality who has devoted great time, money and effort to improving his native Oakland.

Bennett explained his motivation for sitting during the anthem in a first-person narrative posted by Yahoo! Sports, and said seeing Lynch sit wasn’t a shock. Bennett also believes Lynch sat down for a cause.

“It didn’t surprise me that Marshawn Lynch sat, too,” Bennett said. “I think he’s one of the people in the forefront who are making changes in the community. That’s what he believes in. I think we both believe in our community, we both believe that people can be great. We don’t believe that this is the end; we believe there’s more out there – there are more things we can do as people, more ways to challenge ourselves.”

Raiders TE Cook 'proud' of Marshawn, but will he join the RB?

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AP

Raiders TE Cook 'proud' of Marshawn, but will he join the RB?

NAPA –  Raiders tight end Jared Cook hasn't formally spoken to teammate Marshawn Lynch about his decision to sit during the national anthem during Saturday’s exhibition opener against Arizona. 

It’s assumed by many to be in protest of racial inequality and mistreatment of minorities, especially on the heels of racially fueled violence in Charlottesville, Va. Count Cook among them.

The veteran running back has remained mum on the matter in public and, with Cook at least, in private.

If he was in fact protesting by sitting out the national anthem, tight end Cook is glad Lynch took a stand. Cook has stood up against racial inequality, most notably after racial unrest caused by police shootings in Ferguson, Mo., while with the St. Louis Rams. He said it’s vital to speak out against injustice.

“I’m proud of him,” tight end Jared Cook told reporters, with quotes via the Associated Press. “I think it’s awesome. Everybody has points of discussion after what happened in Charlottesville just the night before. I think it’s important for men in our position to step up and speak on unnecessary situations we find ourselves in as minorities in this country. That’s why I’m proud of him.”

Former 49ers Colin Kaepernick became the face of the anthem protest movement last year, when he kneeled during the national anthem and was joined by others around the league.  

Cook said he has thought about joining a new round of protests, including one executed by Seattle’s Michael Bennett before a Sunday exhibition against the Los Angeles Chargers. Unlike Lynch, Bennett articulated his reasoning well in postgame comments. Cook said it’s uncertain whether he’ll join in.

“As far as the future goes, I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I know I feel uneasy about the situation going on in this country and have been for a while.”