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Florida removes Aaron Hernandez’s All-American brick from football facility

Aaron-Hernandez-brick-removed

Aaron Hernandez was selected as a first team All-American following his junior season at Florida in 2009. The university was proud of the accomplishment at the time and decided to etch Hernandez’s name in history with a brick outside of its football facility. In the wake of the 23-year-old’s arrest and ensuing murder charge, that pride seems to have disappeared.

Florida made the decision to remove the brick on Thursday.

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Bill Belichick on Aaron Hernandez: ‘I’m responsible for players we bring in’

Bill-Belichick-Aaron-HernandezBill Belichick spoke to the media on Tuesday for the first time since former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. While most of his press conference was vintage Belichick, he showed more compassion and regret than many people expected him to.

Belichick began the news conference by expressing his condolences to the Lloyd family and calling the murder a “tragedy.”

“This is a sad day on so many levels,” Belichick said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim.”

Belichick mentioned Hernandez by name at the very beginning of his lengthy opening statement, but only referred to him as “the player” from that point on. He stated that he agreed “100%” with the comments Patriots owner Robert Kraft made about the situation earlier this offseason, and then surprised some by taking responsibility for the fact that Hernandez did not work out.

“We’ll learn from this terrible experience,” Belichick said. “This does not in any way represent the way the New England Patriots want to do things. As coach, I’m primarily responsible for people we bring into this organization. Personally, I’m challenged by decisions that affect the team on a daily basis. We always try to do what’s best for the team. We’ll continue to do this and will work to do a better job going forward.”

[Related: Tom Brady gives first comments since Aaron Hernandez arrest]

After his opening statement, Belichick was very vague and answered very few questions. He said he has been advised to not speak about individuals who are involved in an ongoing investigation, but did give some insight when asked if the Patriots have looked into the claim that other football players visited Hernandez’s so-called “flop house.” He said the team has “absolutely done as much as we can” to gather information on that front.

Overall, I thought Belichick handled the situation well. He put his typical arrogance aside and delivered an adequate opening statement. While saying he has been advised to not speak about individuals who are involved in an ongoing investigation will be seen as a copout, it’s smart. Regardless of how compelling the evidence is against Hernandez, his trial has yet to even begin. Saying too much could get the team into trouble.

See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder

Report: Prosecutors want Aaron Hernandez charged for 2012 murders

Aaron HernandezA grand jury in Suffolk, Mass., is convening regarding an unsolved double murder from last July, and prosecutors are making the case that Aaron Hernandez should be charged in the murders, according to The Boston Globe.

After Hernandez was charged in the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd last month, information concerning the former tight end’s troubled past emerged. Speculation began that Hernandez may have been connected to a drive-by shooting in the South End of Boston last July that left two men dead. Witnesses said the car driven by the perpetrators was a gray or silver SUV with Rhode Island plates. Reports later indicated that the car was rented in Hernandez’s name.

The Globe says prosecutors are not in a hurry to charge Hernandez for the deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu because the tight end is already being held in jail without bail. A motive for the murder has not been established. Furtado and Abreu worked together for a cleaning company, and their relatives say the men did not know Hernandez.

The Suffolk grand jury will hear evidence from the Suffolk County prosecutors and witnesses subpoenaed to testify. The grand jury needs to determine whether there is enough evidence to indict the defendant. A majority vote is required for indictment.

[Related: Aaron Hernandez investigated for 2007 Florida shooting]

If Hernandez is indicted, that means he could be facing murder charges in multiple cases at the same time. And if he is guilty, that means it is possible he played all last season for the New England Patriots after being part of a double murder.

See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder case

NFL teams reportedly considering using police experts to check player tattoos

Aaron-Hernandez-blood-tattooSince Aaron Hernandez was arrested in connection with the murder of Odin Lloyd, a lot has been made of the former New England Patriots tight end’s tattoos. Officials at Bristol County House of Corrections examined Hernandez’s tattoos extensively in an attempt to determine if anyone of them would prove that the 24-year-old has allegiances to gangs. They found nothing.

However, there were many who initially thought that this tattoo on Hernandez’s right hand may have signified some sort of gang affiliation. According to CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman, NFL teams are considering hiring police experts in the future to help them examine ink.

To me, that sounds like a slippery slope. We already have writers questioning athletes for simply having tattoos, and now experts are going to examine them?

Teams already perform extensive background checks on college players and have even been known to take questioning too far. Does examining a person’s body art extend beyond the realm of what’s reasonable? If it helps a team avoid drafting a player who associates himself with criminals off the field, I’m sure some teams would welcome it.

Tom Brady on Aaron Hernandez: ‘I have moved on’

Tom-Brady-PatriotsNew England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his first public comments about the Aaron Hernandez situation this week. As you might expect, the two-time Super Bowl MVP was very vague.

During an interview with Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Brady stopped short of directly addressing the Hernandez murder charge when asked about it. He did, however, say he has left it in the past.

“I’ve seen a lot of things over 13 years, and what I have learned is that mental toughness and putting aside personal agendas for what’s in the best interest of the team matters most,” Brady said. “My job is to play quarterback, and I’m going to do that the best way I know how, because I owe that to my teammates regardless of who is out there on the field with me.

“I have moved on. I’m focusing on the great teammates I have who are committed to helping us win games. The only thing I care about is winning. Nothing is going to ever get in the way of that goal. I’m just excited to report to camp and see what we can accomplish as a team. The fate of our season will be determined by the players in our locker room—nothing else.”

[Related: Tom Brady told Tim Tebow Aaron Hernandez is 'a lot to handle']

Those who have followed the Patriots and Brady’s career should not have expected him to say any more than that. Hernandez was one of the best players New England had in 2012, but he’s no longer a member of the team. Bill Belichick, who will say essentially the same thing as Brady during his press conference on Wednesday, has always made sure to keep the focus on the players currently on his roster.

In non-Hernandez news, Brady told King he feels like he can continue to play in the NFL beyond the age of 40.

“The way I feel now, it’s beyond 40,” he said. “I have a lot of goals, and I am in this for the long haul. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Whether the team wants me, or whether something [like an injury] happens tomorrow to stop me from playing, that remains to be seen. But my training, my nutrition, the bodywork I do—I can’t see not playing at any time in the near future. There’s nothing I love to do more.”

Players come and go within every football organization. It’s not often that one of them leaves because of a murder charge, but the concept for the Patriots remains the same. Hernandez was a luxury last season when healthy. He has nothing to do with the Patriots’ on-field product in 2013.

Aaron Hernandez’s mother was stabbed by his stepfather after Patriots drafted him

Aaron HernandezAaron Hernandez has a very troubled past that many people consider to be disturbing. We may not know the half of it.

What we already know is that Hernandez’s father died when he suffered a fatal infection following a routine hernia surgery when Aaron was 16 years old. His mother, Terri Hernandez, told USA Today Sports in 2009 that Hernandez was “very angry” after losing his father and would “rebel” against her. She said that by 2009 he had become “my Aaron again,” but another traumatic event that took place the following year may have caused some of that anger to return.

In June of 2010 — less than a month after Hernandez signed his first contract with the New England Patriots — Terri Hernandez was stabbed by Jeffrey Cummings, the man she married three years after the death of Hernandez’s father. According to The Daily Beast, Bristol police responded to a 911 call to find Hernandez’s mother bleeding and trembling.

Cummings, who was an ex-con with a criminal record that included assault on a police officer and 19 failed drugs tests for marijuana and cocaine between September 2009 and June 2010, allegedly assaulted and slashed Terri during a verbal argument. Hernandez’s mother said the altercation became physical when Cummings shoved her to the ground and she scraped her knee.

“Terri stated that she got up and asked him, ‘What did I do? Why did you do that?’” a police report obtained by The Daily Beast read. “She stated she was surprised. She walked into the living room and sat on the chair crying because she was upset.”

Terri Hernandez said she then walked into the kitchen when Cummings approached her with a large kitchen knife and put it to her throat. The report stated that she was “scared for her life” and that Cummings then began stabbing a stand-up fan with the knife. He then approached her with the 8-inch blade.

“He came back over to Terri with the knife and started to jab the knife into the chair she was sitting on,” the officer’s report stated. “Terri told me that at that time she started to bleed from her face. While he was hitting objects with the knife, he was saying something to the effect of ‘I don’t care if I go back to prison.”

Terri had fled to a neighbor’s house where police found her with a 3 1/2-inch wound on her face and wounds on her left wrist and right shoulder. Cummings was convicted of assault and sentenced to two years in prison on October 15, 2010. Terri divorced him in December 2010 while he was being held in a correctional facility.

Any anger Hernandez had learned to cope with after losing his father may have returned after his mother was attacked by his stepfather. Police reportedly believe Hernandez killed Odin Lloyd over trust issues, which is a motive that would make even more sense after learning that his mother was slashed by her husband. Hernandez losing his father and hanging out with the wrong crowd clearly only scratches the surface of the drama that has gone on in his life outside of football.

[Related: All LBS stories about the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation]

H/T Wesley Lowery

Mike Pouncey avoids apologizing for wearing ‘Free Hernandez’ hat

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Last weekend, twin brothers Maurkice and Mike Pouncey had a regrettable lapse in judgment when they wore hats that said “Free Hernandez” on them during their birthday bash at a nightclub in Miami. Maurkice, who plays center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, apologized with a message on Twitter just two days after wearing the hat. Mike, who plays for the Miami Dolphins, has remained silent.

On Sunday, Mike was asked to address his decision to support Aaron Hernandez while his former Florida teammate awaits trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

“I’m here to talk about football,” he said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “After football.”

It was believed that the Steelers put pressure on Maurkice to apologize for wearing the hat, but Dolphins coach Joe Philbin would not say if he did the same to Mike.

“Any conversation I may or may not have had with Mike will stay internal,” Philbin said, according to Around the League. “I will tell you that it’s important for every member of this organization — player, coach — to represent the Miami Dolphins in a first-class manner.”

I can understand Mike not wanting to get into a full-blown discussion about the hat after Miami’s first training camp session. You don’t want to become a distraction, but would it have been difficult for him to say he made a dumb decision and tell reporters that’s the last he’s going to say about it? Refusing to address the issue simply magnifies it.