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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. 

10 Episodes
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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.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.
Hail Mary | 1

Hail Mary | 1

2018-10-1537:54128

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
Bristol | 2

Bristol | 2

2018-10-1537:44114

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
Gator Nation | 3

Gator Nation | 3

2018-10-2336:5474

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
The Patriot Way | 4

The Patriot Way | 4

2018-10-3045:2291

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
Erasing Aaron | 5

Erasing Aaron | 5

2018-11-0643:0186

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
Beauty & Violence | 6

Beauty & Violence | 6

2018-11-1334:4064

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.
Interview | 7

Interview | 7

2018-11-2025:0235

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
Playing Through Pain | 8

Playing Through Pain | 8

2019-01-2933:3325

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?
Subscribe today: wondery.fm/gladiatorDGKIn 1978, Rodney Alcala won a date on the popular TV show, The Dating Game. What no one knew was that he was a prolific serial killer in the middle of a cross-country murder spree. In this six-part series, co-hosts Tracy Pattin (Hollywood & Crime) and Stephen Lang (Avatar, Don’t Breathe) take listeners on an unbelievable journey into Alcala’s twisting secret life. He hid behind normal jobs as a typesetter at a prominent newspaper and a summer camp counselor. How did this predatory monster fool employers, prison psychiatrists, and parole boards — all while committing heinous crimes from coast to coast? And how did a one-time appearance as a game show contestant help lead to his capture? From the makers of Dirty John, Dr. Death, and Young Charlie, learn the story of the most famous serial killer you’ve never heard of - The Dating Game Killer.
Comments (67)

David McManus

I spent the last year of Aaron's life two cells over. this "junkie " who claims he was Aaron's lover in G2in Shirley max.. is full of crap.. he clung to Aaron for fake pot .. k2 sprayed on letters Aaron mind was altered just from his demeanor I know how much pain he hid behind. He loved his family. Cousins too.. why none of them reached out to him earlier?? look me up if u think I'm full of it...

Jul 1st
Reply

Jimmy Freese

great job as always wondery. very interesting and truly a sad tale. :-(

Apr 15th
Reply

Mary Barros

I'm not a podcast kind of person and found myself truly enjoying this series. Tremendous investigative reporting. And an incredibly sad story with lots of loss and numerous victims. Aaron likely killed at least 3 individuals but a lot of people - throughout his entire life - also failed him.

Feb 12th
Reply

Alan Walker

great podcast well done to all involved ,heartbreaking story for all who came into contact with Aaron

Jan 27th
Reply

Aubree Barbosa

is anyone also thinking about the recent decline of Antonio Brown its very sad to see as well.

Jan 27th
Reply

John Baker

Loved the football player..I'm from Massachusetts blown away by how this guy could sabotage his life..

Jan 27th
Reply

Toba Moradeyo

Can't wait for O.J CTE

Jan 18th
Reply

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

Marie Celeste

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 (1)

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
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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 (2)

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
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