More revelations of Aaron Hernandez’s past while a member of the Florida Gators football team surface. Yesterday, SaturdayBlitz.com’s Ryan Wooden examined a USA Today report that the former UF and New England Patriots star tight end was involved in a violent bar fight in 2007, but avoided discipline.
Today, ESPN.com’s Kelly Naqi reports Massachusetts police are working with Gainesville, Fla. authorities to uncover more about Aaron Hernandez and his link to crimes while in college.
When Hernandez was first declared a person of interest and later suspect in the June 16 murder of Odin Lloyd, the scale of this story was immediately evident, and part of its coverage was going to be a renewed scrutiny on his past.
Mike Bianchi wrote of a report without details about 2007 shooting, in which Hernandez was questioned but never charged. Naqi’s report fleshes out this incident a bit more.
Gainesville police Lt. Keith Kameg was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel as saying neither Hernandez nor [former UF and current Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie] Nelson were suspects. Police have also said that they briefly interviewed Hernandez about the shooting. But, according to the police report, Hernandez declined to speak to Gainesville police nine days after the shooting. Hernandez’s name is redacted from the report because he was 17 and considered a minor at the time. However, there is one reference to Hernandez in which his name is not redacted. In that section under “Aaron Hernandez,” the report says detectives attempted to speak to Hernandez on Oct. 9 but that “he invoked his right to counsel.”
The complete police report is available on the Gainesville Police Department website.
Former UF and current Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer has received criticism, and Wednesday’s revelation is likely to only exacerbate that. The reported bar fight and the 2007 shooting are linked in that Hernandez was a central figure to each. Both also have a similar end-result, with alleged victims declining to pursue further action.
This is a double-edged sword if you’re Meyer. One school of thought ask how can you punish someone never formally charged with wrongdoing? While being in situations to even be accused is problematic, the coach’s duty is to steer his player away from that — which, after a 2008 suspension for marijuana use, USA Today reports family and coaches believed Hernandez had.
Obviously that wasn’t the case when Hernandez became a pro. While he may not have committed the murder for which he will stand trial, he put himself in a position to be held by authorities without bail. Therein lies the other side of said double-edged sword. An argument various outlets have already made is that a more authoritative approach from Meyer may have sent a clearer message.
While Hernandez was charged with nothing, two accusations of particularly violent crimes surfacing in the same year establish a troubling pattern.
However, the above only applies within the confines of the Florida football program not being responsible for charges against Hernandez disappearing. USA Today‘s report on the 2007 bar fight says, ” it appears the school or football program might have gotten Hernandez off the hook by reaching a settlement with the manager to keep him from pursuing charges, according to a supplemental investigation report on the altercation.”
If Florida was indeed making these cases disappear, another investigation could stem from these findings — one via the NCAA into a lack of institutional control.
For Aaron Hernandez, each new day brings more damning revelations. But now Florida and Meyer are inching closer to having to take on the defensive, as well.