Jeremy Foley has some explaining to do.
According to the Wall Street Journal (yes, the Wall Street Journal), Hernandez was involved in an incident only months after arriving at school, before ever playing for the Gators. A police report obtained Monday by the Journal reveals that Hernandez, who was only 17 at the time, ordered two “alcoholic drinks” at a restaurant known as The Swamp. Hernandez later claimed he hadn’t ordered the drinks.
A “verbal altercation” ensued, and Hernandez eventually was asked to leave. An employee, Michael Taphorn, escorted Hernandez out of the building. Once outside, Hernandez claimed that Taphorn “got in his face.” So, obviously, Hernandez slugged him. Taphorn suffered a ruptured eardrum.
Hernandez wasn’t arrested. Because he was underage, he most likely would have been prosecuted as a juvenile.
It’s unclear whether NFL teams knew about the incident. It’s possible that the report was kept tightly under wraps in 2010 (after all, the higher a player gets drafted, the better for the program).
Even if teams knew about the alleged punch to the head of the restaurant employee, it remains difficult if not impossible to project murder from this type of misbehavior. It’s hard not to wonder how many other college-town police departments looked the other way when players from the football team did something they shouldn’t have done, with the information never to come to light because the players involved never went on to kill anyone.