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Hernandez impacts real, surreal and video world

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In the wake of the ongoing murder investigation and serious charges involving former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, various reactions continue to dominate pro and college football, including real, surreal and video versions.

Electronic Arts, in a twist on that old marketing phrase, is now saying, in effect, "If he's not in the game, he's not in the game."

On Monday, EA announced that Hernandez will be removed from Madden NFL 25 and NCAA Football 14.

But as with everything else involving Hernandez, even that straight forward move was not without drama.

Recently, news involving Hernandez included Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who recruited and coached Hernandez at University of Florida; the status and value of Hernandez's jerseys. And in a development that for some reason is being tied to the Hernandez situation, there are reports that players who are not academically eligible should be banned from the Scouting Combine.

After his wife and daughter tweeted in defense of Meyer a few days ago, Meyer himself began speaking out over the weekend against reports on how he handled, or mishandled, Hernandez when they were at Florida.

Meanwhile, in their latest attempt to distance themselves from the player, the Patriots announced last week they were offering to exchange Hernandez jerseys, which resulted in long lines at official stores and reportedly more than 1,200 exchanges as of Monday morning.

However, as might be expected, Hernandez jerseys, which sold for up to $99.95 retail, are reportedly fetching $1,500 online by fans hoping to capitalize on the player's infamous fall from grace.

As for academically ineligible players being banned from the Scouting Combine, such a move would have had no effect on Hernandez, who was academically eligible and, in fact, was previously committed to and accepted by the University of Connecticut before circumstances dictated that he opted for Florida.

Before EA announced it was pulling Hernandez from its popular NFL and college football franchises, a photograph made the rounds Monday morning on twitter featuring Hernandez's "card," which caused a significant stir.

EA was already in the process of eliminating him from its newest NFL and college games.

"We made a decision to remove Aaron Hernandez from Madden NFL 25 and NCAA Football 14. Because NCAA Football 14 was finalized prior to our decision, Hernandez' image still appears in the Nike Skills Trainer," a spokesperson for EA Sports said.

"However, he is not in the game, and anyone who unlocks that particular Nike Skills Trainer reward will receive an Alex Smith Ultimate Team player item instead. The image of Hernandez will be removed via a Title Update in the near future."

Hernandez is charged with the June 17 murder of Odin Lloyd in Massachusetts. Hernandez, who was cut by the Patriots even before he was charged, and two others have been arrested and are being held without bail. Hernandez is also being investigated for his possible connection in other crimes involving weapons, including a double homicide in Boston in 2012.

Although this serious situation seems now to have moved outside the realm of sports, football is now in the offseason so sports and football media are spending time trying somehow to connect dots between athletics and games to these brutal accusations involving Hernandez.

As a result, Meyer appears aggravated that he and the University of Florida are being characterized as an enabler of sorts based on stories implying that he and the school may have been complicit in helping Hernandez avoid consequences for failed drug tests and several altercations , which began even before his freshman season.

After Meyer's wife and daughter issued tweets that suggested Hernandez should have some "self accountability," the coach himself spoke out for the first time over the weekend, reaching out via text and eventually in interviews.

Meyer was concise and to the point in his text to Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun.

"I just received an email from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests covered up by the Univ. of Florida or the coaching staff," Dooly reported Meyer as texting. "This is absolutely not true. Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.

"He was an athlete at Florida 4-to-7 years ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct. Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him. Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim. Relating or blaming these serious charges to Univ. of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible."

In another interview with the Sun, Meyer characterized Hernandez's issues in Gainesville as "very minor stuff."

Said Meyer : "He was questioned about being a witness (to a shooting), and he had an argument in a restaurant , and he was suspended one game (for a failed marijuana test, according to local reports). Other than that, he was three years a good player. That was it."

"... At the end of the day, there is free will. You can't change people. You can set the table and try to help them, make sure there is a spiritual component in their life, make sure there is a family atmosphere. And that's what we try to do - it's what we've tried to do everywhere."

Meyer was more specific on that subject in an interview with Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch. He downplayed Hernandez's involvement in a 2007 fight at a bar named "The Swamp" and further defended how he and his coaches handled players. He also addressed a much-discussed issue about Hernandez maintaining contact with friends from his hometown, Bristol., Conn.

"His people back home said, 'Keep him (in Florida), don't let him come back home' (because of what they saw as unsettling influences)," Meyer said. "That was a big part of it, now that I remember it. And I didn't understand the seriousness of it. People warned me and the coaches warned me, saying, 'He can't go back home.' Again, though, I had no idea we'd be talking about what we are now."
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