by: John Tomase on Wed, 04/19/2017 - 10:17am

Aaron Hernandez is gone and the world is a better place. (Getty Images)What happened to Odin Lloyd in a North Attleboro industrial park is tragic. The deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu as they idled near the intersection of Herald Street and Shawmut Ave. after spilling a drink on the wrong sociopath were tragic.

Aaron Hernandez hanging himself in his prison cell early on Wednesday?

That's called cowardice.

No word has been more problematic since sheriffs led Hernandez out of his condo four years ago in a white t-shirt and orange shorts than "tragic."

Just consider today's reactions alone: 

"A tragic end to a tragic story," the CBS Boston headline blared.

"A brutal, tragic story on every level," opined USA Today's FTW blog.

"Hernandez's life took one final sad, tragic turn," wrote the Boston Globe.

When Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked by CNBC to play word association with Hernandez in a recent interview, he responded with one word.

"Tragedy," he said.

The senseless loss of life almost certainly experienced by the Lloyd, Furtado, and de Abreu families at the hands of Hernandez is absolutely tragic. Their pain will last a lot longer than Hernandez's. The former Patriots tight end ensured that when he took his own life with a bed sheet at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley where he was destined to spend the rest of his life.

Makes you wonder why he didn't just plead guilty to the double murder he was acquitted of last week if this was how he planned to make his exit, and at least give the families the finality of knowing who pulled the trigger. Instead, that question is destined to remain forever unanswered, one final form of victimization.

Hopefully, those families take solace in the thought that Hernandez's future felt so hopeless, he had nowhere to turn but death.

Leaving on his own terms? That's tragic, just as it was when Chuck Stuart hurled himself off the Tobin in 1990 rather than face justice for the murder of his wife, which left a racial stain on the city that lingers to this day. Or just as it was when sadistic Cleveland kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro killed himself in jail four years ago.

Hernandez final act was a selfish one. The criminal justice system had handed down its punishment, and Hernandez couldn't hack it, so he took a shortcut. There's little question which direction his soul is headed, if you believe in such things, and maybe there's some comfort in the thought of where he'll spend eternity.

But don't call it tragic. The insidiousness of the word is the implication that Hernandez's talents on a football field somehow make his loss more heartbreaking, which is how guys like him get enabled in the first place.

When the Globe's Bert Breer broke the news in 2010 that Hernandez had been busted multiple times for marijuana abuse at Florida, his defenders reacted angrily, as if the good name of someone who wasn't, in fact, a scumbag, had been sullied. The Patriots released a statement from Hernandez at the time decrying, "the recent inaccurate report." We should now view that as part of a pattern -- Hernandez denies a mistake at a point when it wouldn't have impacted his future, and no one holds him accountable. That's called enabling.

Hernandez took that lack of accountability to shocking ends, definitely murdering one man and probably killing two others, even if the evidence didn't support a conviction last week.

There had been talk, in the wake of the recent verdict, of Hernandez completing a Hail Mary and appealing his conviction and life sentence in the Lloyd murder. That farce of a trial would've reinforced the notion that Hernandez's celebrity somehow made his life more valuable than those of the three men he put in the ground.

Now that he has taken one final life and guaranteed that he'll never kill again, we'll be reading many words about his life and death in the coming days.

Here's hoping "tragic" isn't among them.