On Monday night, your city’s hockey team gets knocked out of the Stanley Cup Finals because the opposition scores twice within 17 seconds at the end of the game. Shortly thereafter, you learn one of the guys on that home team, Patrice Bergeron, played despite a broken rib, a punctured lung, a separated shoulder, and various torn tendons and muscles. And he probably had a headache.
That’s a big story. You may question Patrice Bergeron’s sanity, but not his determination, and it’s a big story.
Four days later, the same town’s basketball team trades away two potential Hall of Famers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Yikes. Celtics fans might almost be forgiven for forgetting temporarily that only days earlier, the guy who coached the Celtics championship team starring Garnett and Pierce was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Coaches get fired, not traded, so a couple of big stories there, no?
And the town’s baseball team? As we approach the Fourth of July, they’re pulling off one of those rare, last-to-first surprises. How’s that not a story?
But the front-page sports-related story in the town where we produce Only A Game each week has nothing to do with hockey, basketball, or baseball. It has to do with a football player, or, more accurately, a former football player, who lost his job and the opportunity to make about $40 million over the next few seasons when he was arrested and charged with murder.
It can be argued that what Aaron Hernandez, late of the New England Patriots, is alleged to have done does not constitute a football story. The reasoning would be that if a man employed as a waiter is accused of mayhem and worse on his day off, it’s not a necessarily a restaurant story.
But as earlier conversations in today’s show have demonstrated, it’s difficult to separate the line of work in which Aaron Hernandez was engaged and the adulation and benefits marquee pro athletes enjoy from the rest of the narrative that currently finds Hernandez incarcerated and awaiting trial.
Only A Game is a national program, and we find and explore stories no matter where they’re happening. We’re sensitive to the occasional complaint that we concentrate too often on the East Coast, or criticism that we have a lot to say about games and teams on both edges of the country, to the detriment of people in the middle. With so much transpiring in the neighborhood, it was impossible to avoid considerable mention of Boston and environs this week. It’s difficult to imagine circumstances that would have us going to that game plan again any time soon.