Come magazine award season, Paul Solotaroff's latest piece for Rolling Stone, "The Gangster in the Huddle" (co-authored by Ron Borges) is sure to garner some well-deserved attention:
The first text pinged him around nine that Sunday night: I’m coming to grab that tonight, you gon b around? I need dat and we could step for a little again. For Odin Lloyd, this was bang-up news, proof that his luck had turned around. Aaron Hernandez, the Pro Bowl tight end of the New England Patriots, was coming by later to scoop him up for another five-star debauch, just 36 hours after he’d taken Lloyd out for the wildest ride of his life. All night Friday, they’d kicked it at Rumor, popping bottles and pulling models up the steps of the VIP section of the Boston theater district’s hottest club. “Shit was crazy,” Lloyd told friends the next day at his niece’s dance recital. “The girls were off the chain. We smoked that super-duper and Aaron dropped 10 G’s like it was nothing. We kept rolling past dawn at his big-ass mansion, then he tossed me the keys to his Suburban.”
Big doings for a semipro football player and underemployed landscape helper, though there, too, fortune smiled on Lloyd, 27. He’d just gotten word that he’d have shifts all week, his first steady hours in some time. And now he was about to burn it down again with Hernandez, the $40 million man with the restless streak and a bottomless taste for chronic. The problem, Lloyd said, was it didn’t end there with Hernandez and his how-high crew: “Them boys is into way worse shit than herb.”
How much worse? About as bad as it gets, say longtime family friends. In exclusive conversations with Rolling Stone, those friends, who insisted they not be named, say Hernandez was using the maniacal drug angel dust, had fallen in with a crew of gangsters and convinced himself that his life was in danger, carrying a gun wherever he went. Sources close to the tight end add that throughout the spring, when players are expected to be preparing themselves for the marathon NFL season, Hernandez had missed workouts and sessions with a rehab trainer, and had been told by his head coach, Bill Belichick, that he was one misstep from being cut.