What has followed since the horrific and sad murder of Odin Lloyd and the subsequent arrest of ex-Florida Gator star Aaron Hernandez has been nothing short of a complete circus. That circus has now engulfed Hernandez's ex-head coach at Florida, Urban Meyer, and his entire career at Florida. Every decision or non-decision that Meyer made while coaching the Gators has seemingly been put under the media microscope.
In the face of all of this Meyer has stayed silent himself, but just before the Independence Day holiday his family couldn't stay silent any longer with his wife and daughter taking to Twitter to defend him.
When will we start holding individuals accountable for their own decisions/actions and stop blaming any/everyone else? #liveyourliferight
— Shelley meyer (@spinnershells) July 3, 2013
That was Meyer's wife and now we've got this from his daughter:
— Gigi Meyer (@GG_40) July 3, 2013
Meyer's silence on this issue is perhaps the smartest thing he can do personally. Would you want to get dragged into the middle of what are now multiple murder investigations? By issuing any statement other than "no comment" all Meyer would do is open himself up to even more scrutiny than he's already under. I mean by some of the blog posts, columns, and talking head shows out there you'd think Meyer sat next to Hernandez that fateful night just a few weeks ago.
As for the comments from Meyer's family about being accountable for your own actions? Well, his family has a great point. Did Urban Meyer stand over Odin Lloyd and execute him like someone (Hernandez is innocent until proven guilty after all) did? No.
However, on the other hand, as a leader of any organization knows – it's your responsibility to hold your players/employees accountable for their actions as a representative of your organization as well and some would argue that's where the family's defense falls apart to some.
Those people would likely point to an article from the Orlando Sentinel, which points out that Florida football players were arrested 31 times during Urban Meyer's six years in Gainesville. However, to those people I would say this – you can only be accountable to yourself if someone teaches you what personal responsibility means and even then it's on that person you teach to take in the lesson.
Interestingly enough, in the media's attempt to paint Meyer with a broad brush that he doesn't care about his players and only cares about those championship rings and crystal ball trophies, they've missed what Meyer did with Hernandez.
Jon Spencer of the Mansfield News Journal points out two great facts – one is that following the tragic death of Hernandez's father during a surgery back in 2006, Meyer took him into his home, made him part of his family, and made him part of his family's bible study – providing him with a stable environment. I don't know about you, but that doesn't strike me as someone who only cares about winning football games. At the least the guy has a little compasion in him.
The second point Spencer brings up has to do with some in the media harping on the arrest record history of players during Meyer's time at UF. Jim Tressell had similar numbers in a six year span during his time in Columbus and yet no one pinned the idiocy of Maurice Clarrett on Tressell. The great JoePa had a six year period where he had nearly 50 arrests of his players, yet everyone was willing to overlook all of that and lionize the guy as a great moral compass.
Now, that's not to say Meyer is/was a saint in how he handled everything at Florida, but we're here now with hindsight as our guide. Clearly something should've changed and the culture should've been shifted when arrests became the norm rather than the exception during his time at UF.
Those that want to cast him to the fiery pits of hell along with Hernandez also point to the win at all costs mentality that seemed to be in place. However, here's a dark and dirty little "secret" of major college football – it's all about $$$$ and winning – if you aren't bringing in the dollars and aren't bringing in the W's as a coach, you'll be gone as fast as one can get your replacement lined up.
Both sides of this issue have very legitimate points, but the media's wish to connect Meyer directly to what happened (allegedly of course) on that fateful night in Massachusetts is a leap too far. A man can only lead the horse to water, he can make him drink and in this case Meyer can't be held responsible for someone's own personal choices years after he's been gone from his care.
What about Robert Kraft, Bill Belicheck, Tom Brady, Wes Welker and the like who live life by the "Patriots Way?" Why aren't they being demonized for not doing everything they could to change Hernandez's behavior? The point of all this is that no one can take responsibility for the choices one makes besides the person that actually makes them. All that coaches, teachers, parents, brothers, sisters, etc. can do is set examples of how to be accountable and how to live life in a good way. Ultimately it's on the individual to go down his own path and sorry, Urban Meyer isn't the bad guy in this situation. That appears to be Aaron Hernandez and Aaron Hernandez alone.