Of all the stories concerning Aaron Hernandez's character that have come out recently, this one ranks pretty high in showing what people thought of him: The Cincinnati Bengals decided he was too much of a character risk to draft him.
The Bengals have built quite a reputation for bringing in players with sketchy backgrounds. Pacman Jones? Fine, no problem. Vontaze Burfict? Will fit in. Tank Johnson, or the other players with questionable backgrounds who the Bengals had no problem bringing in? No big deal.
But Hernandez apparently was the one who even the Bengals – the Cincinnati Bengals! – couldn't take due to character concerns.
In 2010, the Bengals decided to avoid Hernandez, who was charged with first-degree murder last week, and take Jermaine Gresham instead, Bengals president Mike Brown told FoxSports.com.
“That one is no secret. We just stayed away from it,” Brown told FoxSports.com about Hernandez. “We didn’t question the playing ability. But we went for Gresham.”
Wow. Wonder if that's admissible in court.
Brown said in that FoxSports.com story that the Bengals are being more careful taking character risks, but that really wasn't the case a few years ago when Hernandez was coming out of Florida. The picture being painted of Hernandez the last couple weeks isn't a good one, and there were certainly signs of his character issues when he came out of college.
The New England Patriots are getting a lot of credit in some circles for swiftly cutting Hernandez when he was arrested, and further distancing themselves from him by cutting off his guaranteed money and with a jersey exchange program. That's fine, but the organization still knew of the character concerns and drafted him (and later gave him a huge extension) anyway. New England took the gamble on a troubled player, and even though it could never imagine it playing out with Hernandez being charged with first-degree murder, the Patriots knew there were risks involved with taking him.
If the Bengals were avoiding Hernandez because he was too much of a risk for them, every NFL team should have been on high alert.