Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez had a rough-and-tumble past littered with tough customers and a police report or two before he ever faced charges for murder. But now that Hernandez is under extreme public and police scrutiny for allegedly arranging the execution of Odin Lloyd, every last skeleton is coming out of the closet. And — heavens to Belichick! — not even Tim Tebow will be spared.
Stunning and occasionally hilarious new details emerged from an old tale of Hernandez's time at the University of Florida on Tuesday. Before he even turned 18, Hernandez got into a fight with a bouncer. This much we knew. But there is so, so much more to the story. Monday morning, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hernandez, in 2007, had ordered two "alcoholic drinks" from The Swamp, a just-off-campus bar popular for its proximity to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, but he refused to pay for them once he was hit with a bill. (Maybe he didn't know alcohol costs money. He was 17, after all, and a freshman on the football team.)
Hernandez had a friendly conversation with Michael Taphorn, the bar's security guard and ostensible ID-checker, wherein the two failed to come to a friendly resolution over whether or not he would be paying for those drinks. Hernandez was escorted from the premises. Then this happened:
After stepping outside, according to the report, Hernandez told police Taphorn "got in his face" and began yelling at him. As Taphorn turned to walk away, Hernandez punched him in the side of the head—a fact Hernandez did not dispute.
Yeah, the tiny tight end (ahem, 6'1", 245 pounds) sucker-punched a bouncer. But wait! This story gets even better. Not to be outdone on their own turf, The Orlando Sentinel followed up later in the day with an important detail that was (somehow) missed (and subsequently updated) by the Journal: someone rushed over to try and "resolve the dispute" between Hernandez and the bouncer, and that person was none other than Tim Tebow. Yes, the Jesus-freak and then-sophomore starting quarterback of the Gators tried to break up his teammate's bar fight:
Looks like Hernandez isn't the only one with skeletons:
Hernandez was never formally arrested or charged in the incident, though reports were filed and felony assault charges were recommended by police. And while college football reporters will ask the appropriate questions about how Hernandez escaped the law at the time, and what role then-Florida football coach Urban Meyer played in the issue, this new story shows us the public vetting of Hernandez's past has officially begun. Every instance of bad behavior — bar fights, failed drug tests, shootings — will be looked at for signs that the future NFL-er was had the capacity to kill a man. Everything that was overlooked will be re-examined. And Hernandez does have some things that maybe deserve another once-over. The Sentinel reported Hernandez was questioned about a shooting in 2007 while playing for Florida. On the quieter end of the spectrum, though reefer-madness idiots like ESPN's Skip Bayless will trump it up as if it matters, Hernandez also reportedly smoked a whole lotta weed while he was in college.
That's what we know. If there's more, surely, it'll come out soon. The skeletons are rattling and the closet's unlocked.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.