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Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.
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Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.

Author: The Boston Globe | Wondery

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Football star Aaron Hernandez went from the bright lights of the Super Bowl to a convicted murderer in a few years. The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team, best known for its investigation of the sexual abuse scandal inside the Catholic Church, takes a hard look at the crisis facing football through the lens of Aaron Hernandez’s life and terrible crimes.

From Wondery, the podcast team that brought you Dr. Death, Spotlight asks: Did a brain badly damaged by football contribute to Hernandez’s violent behavior? Did he keep secrets about his sexuality that collided with a hyper-masculine football culture? Did elite coaches and teams look the other way as Hernandez was spiraling out of control?

Spotlight uncovered new documents, audio, and interviews to go deep into the story of what happened to Aaron Hernandez, and what it means for those of us who cheer on a violent game. 

9 Episodes
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Playing Through Pain | 8

Playing Through Pain | 8

2019-01-2900:33:1111

The New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl again, and many current NFL players are feeling the physical toll the season has taken. Aaron Hernandez spoke to his former teammates nearly every day from prison: about the injuries they endured, and the drugs they took to dull the pain. Some of the drugs were legal, administered by the teams, but some drugs weren't. The drugs can help players remain on the field. But at what cost?
Interview | 7

Interview | 7

2018-11-2000:26:2128

Aaron Hernandez died in 2017 but his life still raises questions. On this special episode Liz Dolan, host of “Safe For Work” and “Satellite Sisters,” speaks with Bob Hohler of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team about the making of Gladiator, and the one question he still wants answered.Support us by supporting our sponsors!Audible - Get a 30-day free trial and a free audio book when visit them at audible.com/gladiatorLending Club - Regain control of your finances today at lendingclub.com/gladiator
Beauty & Violence | 6

Beauty & Violence | 6

2018-11-1300:36:1450

In life, Aaron Hernandez weighed 240 pounds. In death, the most important part of his body was just over 3 pounds. When researchers analyzed his brain they were shocked by what they found. A lifetime of football had seemingly taken a tremendous toll, but could it explain his violent crimes?Support us by supporting our sponsors!Zip Recruiter - Get a free trial and learn how to hire smarter when you visit them at ziprecruiter.com/gladiatorStamps.com - Use code GLADIATOR for a 4 week trial including postage and a meter stamps.comBrooklinen - Get $20 off and free shipping when you visit Brooklinen.com and use promo code "Gladiator" at checkout.
Erasing Aaron | 5

Erasing Aaron | 5

2018-11-0600:44:3968

With his arrest, Hernandez traded in his jersey number for an inmate number in the Massachusetts prison system. His voice was rarely heard from again in public -- but he spent hours talking on the phone from inside jail. Spotlight obtained ninety hours of jail calls -- never before heard publicly -- that provide an intimate look at his life and mind in the period before his first murder trial.For more information on issues raised by this series, including suicide prevention, mental health, LGBTQ+ support, and concussion and sports safety, here is a list of support groups and educational organizationsSupport us by supporting our sponsors!Zip Recruiter - Get a free trial and learn how to hire smarter when you visit them at ziprecruiter.com/gladiatorHims - Get a trial month for just $5 when you visit them at forhims.com/gladiator
The Patriot Way | 4

The Patriot Way | 4

2018-10-3000:45:2865

Aaron Hernandez was enjoying success on the field, but in his third season with the Patriots, the fragile balance of his life tipped. There were people who cared for him trying to intercede, from an old girlfriend to his teammates. But no one could successfully help him escape from violence, drugs, and extortion attempts.For more information on issues raised by this series, including suicide prevention, mental health, LGBTQ+ support, and concussion and sports safety, here is a list of support groups and educational organizationsSubscribe to American Scandal today: wondery.fm/scandalSupport us by supporting our sponsors!Zip Recruiter - Get a free trial and learn how to hire smarter when you visit them at ziprecruiter.com/gladiatorBrooklinen - Get $20 and free shipping when you use promo code gladiator at brooklinen.com
Gator Nation | 3

Gator Nation | 3

2018-10-2300:36:2055

Aaron Hernandez was one of eight players who graduated high school early to join the powerhouse University of Florida football team. Six of them would go on to play in the NFL. Forget the senior prom, it was time to learn a playbook as thick as a dictionary. But perhaps the most important lesson he learned was after he got into a bar fight his freshman year: when you're a football player, actions don’t always have consequences.For more information on issues raised by this series, including suicide prevention, mental health, LGBTQ+ support, and concussion and sports safety, here is a list of support groups and educational organizationsSupport us by supporting our sponsors!Zip Recruiter - Get a free trial and learn how to hire smarter when you visit them at ziprecruiter.com/gladiator
Bristol | 2

Bristol | 2

2018-10-1500:37:0773

Aaron Hernandez was an exceptional athlete from an early age, a star in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut. His father was a charismatic ex-athlete still known by his high school nickname, “The King.” He ruled the Hernandez home through fear, and a strong opinion of how he believed his two sons were supposed to act. The long shadow of Aaron’s upbringing -- and his childhood secrets -- would hover over him his entire life.For more information on issues raised by this series, including suicide prevention, mental health, LGBTQ+ support, and concussion and sports safety, here is a list of support groups and educational organizations.Support us by supporting our sponsors!Zip Recruiter - Get a free trial and learn how to hire smarter when you visit them at ziprecruiter.com/gladiatorHims- Get a trial month for just $5 when you visit them atforhims.com/gladiator
Hail Mary | 1

Hail Mary | 1

2018-10-1500:36:5391

When Aaron Hernandez was found hanging from a bedsheet in a maximum security prison cell in Massachusetts, he joined a growing number of former football players who’d taken their own lives. But he was the only one who left a trail of bodies in his wake. Spotlight investigates how Hernandez’s personal life spiralled out of control even as he rocketed to NFL stardom. His teammates on the Patriots were never sure whether he was a goofball who took a special kind of thrill in unnerving them, or whether he was truly dangerous.For more information on issues raised by this series, including suicide prevention, mental health, LGBTQ+ support, and concussion and sports safety, here is a list of support groups and educational organizations.Support us by supporting our sponsors!Zip Recruiter - Get a free trial and learn how to hire smarter when you visit them at ziprecruiter.com/gladiatorStamps.com - Use code GLADIATOR for a 4 week trial including postage and a meter stamps.comAudible - Get a 30-day free trial and a free audio book when visit them at audible.com/gladiator
Football star Aaron Hernandez went from the bright lights of the Super Bowl to a convicted murderer in a few years. The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team, best known for its investigation of the sexual abuse scandal inside the Catholic Church, takes a hard look at the crisis facing football through the lens of Aaron Hernandez’s life and terrible crimes.Did a brain badly damaged by football contribute to Hernandez’s violent behavior? Did he keep secrets about his sexuality that collided with a hyper-masculine football culture? Did elite coaches and teams look the other way as Hernandez was spiraling out of control?Spotlight uncovered new documents, audio, and interviews to go deep into the story of what happened to Aaron Hernandez, and what it means for those of us who cheer on a violent game. From Wondery, the podcast team that brought you Dr. Death.
Comments (59)

Gloria Jaimez

this is such a sad story!

Feb 11th
Reply

David Trent

Great coverage to such a tragic story

Feb 6th
Reply

Luis Cardenas

pl l

Feb 4th
Reply

Luis Cardenas

pl l

Feb 4th
Reply

Luis Cardenas

pl

Feb 4th
Reply

CheshireCatSmile

ridiculous. So many players suffer from CTE but he's the first and only to commit murder. CTE does not excuse his actions, personality, and criminal ways.

Feb 1st
Reply

Rich

CheshireCatSmile CTE can only be diagnosed after death so your point is moot.

Mar 13th
Reply

Aut Qast

This is such a heartbreaking tragedy on all sides, for anyone with a heart in a broken world, and there are billions of the same threads to stories worldwide, yet, as long as money and power rule, nothing will ever, ever, change for the same reasons, money & power rule and it is devastating the further away from the headlines you get, it only gets worse at every level. This is just a tough glimpse into one side and one fraction of a much much deeper pool we all reside in under the oversight of the elite and the Systemic virus of power that runs so deep, it may never even be able to be cut out.

Jan 16th
Reply

Yolanda Esquer

I hate football , for many reasons...

Jan 15th
Reply

Brian C.

Blaming CTE in any capacity for this piece of shit's decision to murder multiple people, is a cop out. Hernandez was a HORRIBLE human being. I hope he's burning in hell.

Jan 14th
Reply

Maddoggkilla

Fernando Saenz I agree that he is a horrible human being, lowest of the low, and the terrible things he did are unforgivable, however, the effects of CTE are still largely unknown. It seems the more research done, the scarier CTE gets with all the damage it causes the human brain. I fear for the livelihoods of any current/former/future ball players and anyone else affected. CTE is definitely not worth a career in football, lucrative or otherwise. Again, I stress this doesnt forgive Hernandez but to say CTE didnt affect his decision making would be incorrect I believe

Jan 25th
Reply

Fernando Saenz

Brian C. I agree they're talking with sympathy and the fact that they erased most of his accomplishments. Why not show sympathy to the people (he got aquitted of those two murders)or the person that he killed! He erased them completely from the face of the Earth!!!

Jan 15th
Reply

Scott 1974

Enough with the alphabet stuff, lbxyzweidb

Jan 12th
Reply

Jessica Rainey

Excellent story! And I don't watch football but this is about how life is complex.

Jan 11th
Reply

edwin tomy

good one

Jan 6th
Reply

bob caygeon

Well done. Cant wait for Adam Sandler to play him when the series is optioned to netflix. Shaby-do-da-da!

Jan 4th
Reply

Anna Blankinship

Well done, Spotlight team!

Dec 26th
Reply

Darren Morris

Really interesting but that last episode sorry the guys voice just goes throught me, it's like he's struggling to find reasons to the question.. Really liked this podcast.

Dec 16th
Reply

Melissa Gifford

Great podcast.

Dec 16th
Reply

Melissa Gifford

Great podcast. Thank You!

Dec 15th
Reply

Dustin Weible

Really enjoyed the series. Lots of info that wasnt all public information.

Dec 10th
Reply

Bnug78 The Illmatic Pixel Thornstrom

pretty good story. Although I think cte may have affected Aaron I don't think it made him a killer. He had ALOT of pent up emotions and shit and he thought himself to be "gangsta". He was just a messed up dude.

Dec 3rd
Reply

Maddoggkilla

Bnug78 The Illmatic Pixel Thornstrom agreed. That dude had some prior issues for sure that impacted his path to becoming a killer. CTE just made everything worst, probably serving as a catalyst for his bad behavior

Jan 25th
Reply

Dustin Weible

this is VERY well done in my opinion. lots of information that was previously left out by the media, really sheds some light. r.i.p Aaron

Nov 29th
Reply
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