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Did CTE play a role in Aaron Hernandez’s crimes?

Screenshot from Sports Illustrated's YouTube video: Aaron Hernandez Suffered Severe Case Of CTE According To Researcher | SI Wire | Sports Illustrated
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Recently, researchers at Boston University made some truly stunning discoveries about Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez, a former professional football player for the New England Patriots, hung himself in prison while serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd. Researchers determined that Hernandez had Stage 3 CTE. He is the youngest person they have encountered with that level of damage to the brain. Previously, the youngest they had encountered was 46 years old. CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, is a degenerative brain disease typically found in athletes, soldiers, or others with repetitive head trauma. CTE affects mood, judgement, impulse control, and aggression.

The researchers did say that Hernandez was born with the genetic marker associated with neurodegenerative disease, which could have played a factor in his level of CTE damage. Plus, it is very rare for researchers to have access to a brain so young and, so, no conclusive findings can be made about how much of a part football played in the damage. With the news of the amount of CTE damage Hernandez had, one must ask the question: Did CTE play a factor in Aaron Hernandez committing murder?

Those who believe CTE damage was a factor in Hernandez’s actions feel that the research has proved it. CTE affects judgment, reason, and aggression. Some believe that all these things being affected can lead one to commit murder. They feel that CTE is the only reason that can explain why a successful athlete, with fame and fortune, would throw it all away the way he did. They contend that he had played since he was a child and there is no telling how many concussions he had, and that the cumulative effect of them at least partly had to have led to his actions.

People who do not believe CTE played a role in his actions point to his childhood. They point out that he had problems long before he stepped onto an NFL football field. He had gang affiliations when he was a teenager. There were questions about his behavior at high school and in college. In their view, Hernandez was not a good person. They feel he was a violent thug who did not care about other people, and now his friends, family, and fans are trying to use CTE as an excuse to make sense of his actions.

Sports Illustrated covering the Aaron Hernandez CTE findings:

The Issue

Did CTE play a role in Aaron Hernandez committing murder? Did all the damage his brain sustained change his personality to the point he could kill? Or, is blaming CTE a desperate attempt by his supporters to excuse his actions?

CTE is at least partly responsible for Aaron Hernandez’s actions

People who feel CTE played a role say that it has been scientifically proven that it did. They look at how badly damaged his brain was and feel that is the end of the debate.

CTE is not responsible for Aaron Hernandez’s actions

Those who don’t feel CTE played a factor say that he was causing trouble long before he was a pro football player. They argue that he had been involved in gangs and had been committing crimes since he was a kid.

Do you think CTE played a role in Aaron Hernandez’s actions?

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