ESPN covered former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's pretrial hearing live at the end of "SportsCenter" on Wednesday afternoon. Two minutes later, on "NFL Insiders," there was press conference footage of Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady discussing if Rob Gronkowski would play against New Orleans this week.
The contrast was startling. Now that the NFL season is in full swing, Hernandez's story hasn't been as prominent in the news. But he's still in jail, awaiting trial on first-degree murder. It was a little shocking to see him back on television Wednesday afternoon, for a pretrial hearing, his first court appearance since his arraignment on Sept. 6.
The hearing itself was relatively mundane. The most newsworthy moment came when prosecutors said they were filing a motion to ask Judge Susan Garsh to recuse herself from the case. According to the Associated Press, Prosecutor William McCauley and the district attorney said in a memo that McCauley and the judge "have a well-known and publicly documented history of antagonism." No arguments were heard on the motion during the hearing, and Hernandez's lawyers said they would object to any recusal.
Hernandez took the stand on Wednesday, and again, the visual was more startling than what came of it. He had to reaffirm to the judge that he wants to continue to have attorney Michael Fee represent him despite a possible conflict of interest. The Boston Globe said prosecutor Patrick Bomberg’s wife is a partner at Ropes & Gray, Fee’s firm.
There was no trial date set. Hernandez was taken out of handcuffs before the hearing, and put back in handcuffs when it was done.
Although Hernandez's trial might not take place for many months, we'll get intermittent reminders of one of the worst NFL stories in many years.