In the wake of Aaron Hernandez's arrest on a charge of first-degree murder in the killing of Odin Lloyd, there have been several reports of other incidents the 23-year-old has been involved in over the last few years. Hernandez allegedly shot an associate in the face in Florida earlier this year, and the former New England Patriots star is being investigated for his possible involvement in a double murder in Boston last July.
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On Monday, an incident that occurred long before Hernandez was drafted in the fourth-round of the 2010 NFL draft, and even before a played a down of football for the University of Florida, came to light. And then another report said that Hernandez's old teammate at Florida, Tim Tebow, tried to diffuse the situation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a 17-year-old Hernandez was involved in a fight at a Gainesville, Fla. bar that left the victim with a burst ear drum.
A waitress brought Hernandez two "alcoholic drinks." After Hernandez finished the drinks, a restaurant employee named Michael Taphorn delivered a bill. Hernandez said he hadn't ordered the drinks and refused to pay, at which point a "verbal altercation" began between the two men. Hernandez called a witness over to try to intervene, but a resolution couldn't be reached. Hernandez was told to leave and escorted out by Taphorn.
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.
Taphorn complained of hearing loss, and due to the severity of his injury, police recommended that a felony battery charge, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, be brought against Hernandez. According to the Wall Street Journal, no charges were filed and how the issue was resolved was not clear.
The Orlando Sentinel added to the story after it received the police reports, saying that Tebow was there and tried to act as a peacemaker:
“Tebow stated that he witnessed the dispute,” the officer wrote. “… Tebow stated that he went over to try to help resolve the conflict.”
Tebow went on to say he urged Hernandez to leave peacefully and tried to make arrangements to pay the bill.
Two hours later, another officer found Hernandez and spoke with him about the incident. Tebow was present during the interview.
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel noted on June 20 that a 17-year-old Hernandez was arrested following an altercation at The Swamp shortly after he enrolled at Florida, but received deferred prosecution in the case.
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The widespread discovery of this incident may raise questions about what the Patriots should have known about Hernandez before they selected him in the 2010 draft. However, with Hernandez being a juvenile and receiving deferred prosecution, it's likely that the Patriots, and the other 31 teams, had no knowledge about this particular incident. Even if teams did know the incident, it would be impossible for anyone to take an action by a 17-year-old who had just consumed two "alcoholic drinks" and somehow use that data to project that, six years and a $37.5 million contract extension down the road, he would be accused of orchestrating and carrying out a murder in the first degree.
Perhaps questions could be directed towards the University of Florida, whose athletic director, Jeremy Foley, has recently taken issue with the reports about Hernandez's three-year stint in Gainesville. Between this latest incident coming to light, Hernandez being questioned about a shooting in Gainesville in 2007, and the failed drug tests, it is surprising that Hernandez missed only one game due to suspension during his three seasons with the Gators.
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