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Extra Points: NFL's answer to Hernandez looks specious

By John McMullen, NFL Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NFL is reportedly considering revoking invitations to the scouting combine for certain players who are ruled academically ineligible in college.

A league source floated that specious plan to CBSSports.com in an effort to take the temperature of a public which has been inundated with a negative narrative surrounding the league since Aaron Hernandez's arrest on murder charges.

Hernandez's name was, of course, never mentioned when discussing the potential policy shift but the theory behind such a move is to put a higher threshold on things like maturity and commitment, as if there is some kind of litmus test which could have foreshadowed a potential ticking time bomb like the ex- Patriots tight end.

Things like education, maturity and commitment certainly are valuable tools that can help people avoid numerous pitfalls in life, including descending into a life of crime. That said, none of those attributes are guarantees and there have been plenty of highly-educated, motivated people who have committed acts of great violence.

By all accounts Hernandez was an extremely committed football player but an immature person, never able to rid himself of the bad influences he cultivated in Connecticut as a youth long before Urban Meyer got a hold of him at the University of Florida.

Unless Hernandez comes clean at some point all of us are just speculating when discussing his downfall. To me, his story points directly to accountability, however.

"Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible," Meyer, who is now the coach at Ohio State, texted the Columbus Dispatch on Saturday, finally breaking his silence on Hernandez.

Perhaps but there were incidents with the Gators that were never addressed and it's conceivable Hernandez developed an "everything works out for me- mentality" in Gainesville.

His marijuana use at Florida has been well-documented and the local police recently released a 2007 incident report from a double shooting in which multiple Gators players, including a 17-year-old Hernandez, were questioned.

Two men were wounded in that attack, including one who was shot in the back of the head. The police report stated that the victims were shot inside a car and an eyewitness claimed there were two shooters, including a "Hawaiian" or "Hispanic" man with a muscular build and "a lot of tattoos."

Certainly no clear evidence of Hernandez's guilt but his name was redacted in the report and it certainly reeks of what is quickly turning out to be an all too familiar pattern.

Saying Hernandez's behavior should have been addressed in a more serous fashion at Florida could be Meyer's and the football program's fault but it could also run far deeper than that, almost an institutional or systemic problem which pervades our society.

Football is king in this country. In virtually every major city this fall you we be able to feel the mood of the people shift on Mondays based on whether the local team wins or loses 24 hours earlier.

It's almost a sickness and for the most part a harmless one until it morphs a kid who was heading down the wrong path into a potential character on HBO's Oz who could have made Vern Schillinger look cuddly in comparison.

We put football players on a pedestal and it starts in high school, exacerbates itself in college, and culminates in the misguided hero-worship of young men in their early 20s when they hit the pros.

According to the CBS source, a sizable group of players would not have been invited to Indianapolis for the combine this past February if the potential new format was in place. A fact which actually highlights just how meaningless a policy like this would be.

Wait five years and hindsight will prove that the vast majority of players who attended the scouting combine in 2013 will live their lives and not get into any kind of trouble, including the "academically ineligible" ones.

In any high-profile legal case, people clamor for answers, even more so than closure. They rarely get it, though.

Did Casey Anthony really murder her baby? Did George Zimmerman kill Trayvon Martin because he was a racist who saw a young black man in a hoodie? Was being a gangsta' really more important for Hernandez than basking in the unadulterated hero-worship his job provided?

There are no easy answers here and a public relations-fueled shift by the NFL offers nothing other than plausible deniability for the next scandal.

07/08 11:47:06 ET

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