When David Diehl learned that Aaron Hernandez was diagnosed with CTE, he felt immediately affected. They were not teammates or friends, but they had one important thing in common: they both played in the NFL.
“Obviously it does affect me personally because I’m part of that brotherhood and that fraternity,” the CBS Sports and NFL on FOX analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “The one thing I said when the statistic came out and the study came out that nine out of 10 former football players had CTE, my first thing was I completely see the danger of the sport and how violent of a game that it is. But also, I want to see studies of hockey players that have been checking each other and been on skates since they could walk. Or soccer players that have been heading the ball since they were 4. (Once) we have a bigger sample size, I think then we’ll have a better understanding of exactly where football is compared to every other sport. But when it came to this one, I just shook my head and cringed because it’s taking away from all of those other people that have been greatly affected by CTE.”
Hernandez’s family is now suing the NFL, which Dielh thinks is, well, wrong. Hernandez may have had CTE at the time of his death, Diehl said, but how do you account for his actions over the previous decade of his life?
“When you think about Aaron Hernandez, No. 1, was he complaining when he got a five-year contract extension and got $40 million?” Diehl asked. “Did that make him make the decisions that he’s been making in regards to gang activity and all this stuff off of the field since he was in high school, going to Florida – where Urban Meyer tried to do everything that he could to help the kid. He roomed him with Tim Tebow to try helping him and his character and everything that he did off of the field.
“So for me to sit here and say that the CTE affected Aaron Hernandez, I don’t believe that one bit,” Diehl continued. “Did he have the affects of it? Did he have CTE? Yes, he could have. But that didn’t affect that he was the one going out and making the decisions to hang out with gang-bangers and do all the other stuff off of the field. . . . “There’s a reason why he was a first-round talent but wasn’t picked by the Patriots until the fourth-round because of all of the other off-the-field things that he did while he was still at Florida.”
Diehl, who played for the Giants for 11 years and won two Super Bowls, believes Hernandez’s family is suing for the wrong reasons.
“They’re just looking at this as a way to make money,” Diehl said. “When Aaron Hernandez was first in jail and everything came out about his death, (they said), ‘He couldn’t have killed himself. There’s no way that he would do that.’ And now you’re saying, ‘Okay, he did kill himself (because of) CTE, and we’re going to try to cash in on it.’ So they’re taking away from all those players and all those families that were affected by it.”