Why hasn’t Roger Goodell suspended Aaron Hernandez yet? What exactly is he waiting for? The situation involving the New England Patriot’s tight end isn’t getting any better, and the evidence that’s trickling in each day isn’t getting any less incriminating, so what exactly is the hold up? A player on one of the NFL’s most reputable teams is a central figure in an ongoing murder investigation, and the league needs to do what is can to distance themselves from Hernandez as soon as possible, and the best way to do that is for Goodell to go ahead and suspend him indefinitely.
It’s commendable that Goodell wants to be patient and allow things to play out further, but it’s also naïve and stupid. Hernandez doesn’t have to be convicted or even charged in connection with a murder for Goodell to be justified in suspending him under the NFL’s personal conduct policy; Hernandez’s actions over the past week alone warrant a suspension. He’s been uncooperative with police, he destroyed his cell phone and home surveillance system, and had his house professionally cleaned, all of which should be considered suspicious activity for someone who is a person of interest in a murder investigation.
Even if Hernandez had nothing to do with the crime, he’s gone out of his way to make it difficult for investigators to obtain information that could be relevant to the case. Such disrespect for authority figures is not something Goodell should tolerate, especially being an authority figure himself, and being so uncooperative should be enough to suspend Hernandez, if not as punishment then at least as a way to send a message about the way he has handled the situation.
People who have had their homes extensively searched, to the extent that a nearby pond is also searched, are more than just ancillary witnesses in a police investigation. There should be no disputing that Hernandez is a central figure in a murder investigation, and there should be no reason why Goodell needs to wait for an arrest be made, or even have a face-to-face meeting with Hernandez, before taking action. Goodell has suspended players before without any formal charges being made, doing so with Ben Roethlisberger, and the circumstances surrounding Hernandez are no less serious, and should warrant an indefinite suspension.
The Patriots have already asked Hernandez to stay away from Gillette Stadium, as they try to distance themselves from their star tight end, and the NFL needs to do the same. There’s a lot more to indicate that Hernandez will ultimately be charged with something than indicates that the investigation will end with Hernandez being in the clear, and so there is little reason for Goodell to wait. Instead of waiting, and watching as the investigation drags on, Goodell should be proactive in suspending Hernandez. He’d be justified in doing so, and he’d be doing it in the best interest of the NFL, which for him should be the only thing that matters.