As the investigation continues into whether New England tight end Aaron Hernandez played a part in the death of Odin Lloyd, talk has increased that the Patriots should have stayed away from Hernandez in the 2010 NFL draft because of his checkered history at Florida. Now Florida’s athletic department is taking issue with that talk.
Responding to a flurry of reports citing NFL sources that said Hernandez was a trouble-maker at Florida and that NFL teams that did their homework steered clear of him, Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley told al.com, “The information from the NFL sources is wrong.”
Although that statement is direct, it doesn’t really clear much of anything up: Which information is wrong? The report that Hernandez failed numerous drug tests at Florida? The report that NFL teams were concerned Hernandez might have gang ties? The report that Hernandez was questioned about a shooting while he was at Florida?
In a more specific denial, Steve McClain, senior associate athletics director, texted al.com: “I would go on record saying he didn’t fail six drug tests (at Florida).” That raises an obvious follow-up question: If he didn’t fail six drug tests, how many drug tests did he fail? That question remains unanswered by Florida officials.
Hernandez missed one game during his time at Florida, and he has said that was because of a suspension for a failed drug test. Other than that one-game suspension, Hernandez was a student-athlete in good standing during his time as a Gator. Which might mean he generally stayed out of trouble in college, or might mean that if you can help the Gators win games, Florida officials are willing to look the other way.