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League may use police experts to check player tattoos

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is arraigned in court in Attleborough, Massachusetts Reuters

In the wake of the Aaron Hernandez arrest, some eyebrows were raised at the news that authorities were scanning his vast array of tattoos for evidence of gang connections.  As it turns out, it’s standard practice when potentially putting inmates with rival gang ties in the same jail space.

Eyebrows are now being raised at the possibility the league will do the same thing.

According to Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com, teams may now use police experts to check the tattoos of incoming prospects for evidence of gang connections.  The examinations presumably would occur at the Scouting Combine, where new players are repeatedly poked and prodded and eyeballed.

Actually, it’s surprising that it doesn’t already happen.  Five years ago, the NFL hired experts to study on-field celebrations in order to determine whether players were displaying gang signs.  If the league is concerned about gang connections, looking at the evidence in plain sight on players arms, torso, and elsewhere would make plenty of sense.

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78 Responses to “League may use police experts to check player tattoos”
  1. floratiotime says: Jul 23, 2013 4:24 PM

    This is really getting a little crazy.

  2. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 23, 2013 4:25 PM

    Actually it’s NOT surprising that it isn’t already happening. Professional football is one of the sloppiest high profile businesses in this country. Too many incompetent people all over the place from top to bottom.

  3. pathsovglory says: Jul 23, 2013 4:25 PM

    crappy situation but recent (and even not so recent) events kinda make this necessary

  4. fanofevilempire says: Jul 23, 2013 4:27 PM

    what if a guy has a free Aaron Hernandez Tattoo, will they have to cut off that body part/

  5. loubearkane says: Jul 23, 2013 4:27 PM

    A smart move by the NFL , yes a younger player can have tattoos from his “younger days” but this is a multi billion dollar business. They can have those lasered immediately and if a player refuses then I guess you have your answer if he’s still active in the lifestyle.

  6. theinconvienenttruth says: Jul 23, 2013 4:28 PM

    Seriously…tattoos. Maybe they should do a better job in looking at what incoming players have done off the field in college…

  7. bsizemore68 says: Jul 23, 2013 4:30 PM

    No they would not cut off anything, however they would think that this guy is not to smart and pass on him. Bill

  8. waitingguilty says: Jul 23, 2013 4:33 PM

    What’s the goal here? To make sure no crips and bloods are in the same position group together?

  9. freder85ico says: Jul 23, 2013 4:35 PM

    Why wasn’t this done previously??

  10. deltaoracle says: Jul 23, 2013 4:36 PM

    Reportedly all Viking players and fans are getting tats from the movie gang “The Orphans.”
    “You see Warriors?! You see what happens when you mess with the Orphans?!”
    “Whoops! Run Away – run away!!!”

  11. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 23, 2013 4:36 PM

    waitingguilty:

    To grow the size of the list of players that teams scratch off their boards before the draft begins.

  12. Slim Charles says: Jul 23, 2013 4:37 PM

    This is idiotic. Talk about hysteria.

  13. nflpoker says: Jul 23, 2013 4:37 PM

    Maybe they are looking for “Helllll To Goodellllllll” tattoos.

  14. staubach12ismyidol says: Jul 23, 2013 4:40 PM

    These guys are investments weather they like it or not.

    It college players dont want their ink looked at then they can pump gas for a living.

    The owners have every right to make sure they are not employing gang banging turds.

  15. heeeeelzfan says: Jul 23, 2013 4:40 PM

    They may be “incompetent people” but they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

  16. sandersmarcus10 says: Jul 23, 2013 4:41 PM

    WHAT A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY!!!

  17. donmcg2012 says: Jul 23, 2013 4:42 PM

    This is BS. What is it now, guilty until scanned?

  18. b4n9edweimer says: Jul 23, 2013 4:42 PM

    Peyton Manning is gonna be so screwed.

  19. trollaikman8 says: Jul 23, 2013 4:42 PM

    Kaepernick has Dolphin tattoos, so what?

  20. waitingguilty says: Jul 23, 2013 4:43 PM

    thestrategyexpert:

    Thanks, I was kidding though.

  21. footbal1q says: Jul 23, 2013 4:44 PM

    I’m sure Cam Newton is relieved now thanks Jerry Richardson!

  22. loubearkane says: Jul 23, 2013 4:44 PM

    The NFL is corporate America and they are uncomfortable right now. If corporate America stops buying luxury suites and dishing out millions upon millions for every 30 second commercial spot you can put a fork in it.

  23. whiskers916 says: Jul 23, 2013 4:45 PM

    This is pretty degrading.

    I’ll betcha’ they only check that tatts of African-American players

  24. thirstymofo says: Jul 23, 2013 4:46 PM

    As a man with alot of tattoos, I think this is ridiculous, close-minded, and the intelligence behind it seems to be dated. I work a desk job and pay taxes just like everyone else. Then, I go home and watch Friends re-runs with my 16 year old daughter. Tattoos are very common now days, so move on.

  25. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 23, 2013 4:46 PM

    heeeeelz:

    Yeah, and that compounds the problem. Not only do these incompetent people hold the NFL back from further greatness, but they are getting paid huge amounts of money and it’s a terrible injustice. That’s just a sad realization of the problem.

    The NFL badly needs a proactive Commissioner to make everything better that is within his/her ability to influence. Goodell is too reactive and he can’t identify a problem unless a court summons smacks him in the forehead. Or his financial advisory teams inform him of a strategy to make more money for himself.

  26. blacknole08 says: Jul 23, 2013 4:46 PM

    This seems a bit extreme.

    The NFL should instead focus on doing a better job of screening their potential prospects (things like drug usage, mental health/illness, domestic abuse offenses, college drinking/DUI offenses, or any other legal/illegal matters).

  27. softhelmet says: Jul 23, 2013 4:49 PM

    I think they should check for spelling, use it as an intelligence test. If you or your tattoo artist can’t spell, you can’t play for us. Unless that team is Cleveland, everyone gets to play there…

  28. dowhatifeellike says: Jul 23, 2013 4:53 PM

    If a guy comes in with a gang tat then he already makes questionable choices, regardless of actual gang involvement. I wouldn’t hire that guy to file my paperwork, let alone offer him millions of dollars.

  29. vikingsrulez69 says: Jul 23, 2013 4:54 PM

    Kaep better get to camp a day or two early…

  30. isphet71 says: Jul 23, 2013 4:55 PM

    Ohio State is screwed.

  31. lowlifenebula says: Jul 23, 2013 5:00 PM

    wow this is ridiculous. Not only will it cost a lot, but it is pointless. If players all over were being found out to be in gangs and it was a problem, then maybe it would have more validity. As it stands I think it is paranoia. Also, to the people who say it’s a private business, yes it is but the issue is the sheer stupidity of doing it. Examining the players off field habits would be a more appropriate action, which they already do….. unfortunately not very well. Besides the majority of high profile players who are into illegal activities are smart enough to use their money to their advantage.

  32. tennesseeoilers says: Jul 23, 2013 5:01 PM

    Awkward: When the cops take a good look at Colin Kaepernick’s arms and inform the 49ers that “The Evangelicals” is actually an obscure street gang.

  33. loubearkane says: Jul 23, 2013 5:02 PM

    thirstymofo says:////////////////////////////

    I think they are thinking about using this to identify gang affiliation if there is any.

  34. pem34 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:08 PM

    whiskers916 says:
    Jul 23, 2013 4:45 PM
    This is pretty degrading.

    I’ll betcha’ they only check that tatts of African-American players
    ————————

    Like Aaron Hernandez?

  35. patriotenvy says: Jul 23, 2013 5:08 PM

    Does Eric Holder know about this?

  36. demjoneses says: Jul 23, 2013 5:08 PM

    Seems to me like most NFL players get in trouble for things like, DUI, domestic violence and assult (with someone outside of the club). None of which are gang related. So the NFL is trying to make it look like they’re doing something when they really aren’t. Supposed a stud WR has a gang tattoo, do you think all teams will really pass on him? It’ll be business as usual and the only thing that will change is the way the write up the contract.

    Also; I thought they reported none of AH tatts were gang related?

  37. malibu67 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:09 PM

    Mike Tyson wants to have a little chat with Roger G.

  38. rdrs68 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:10 PM

    nothing says ghetto like a tat.

  39. tindeaux says: Jul 23, 2013 5:10 PM

    all NFL teams together is like one big company and if any player doesn’t represent them well, they can cut loose if they want. i don’t see a problem with that. the gang guys in my company are long gone. they don’t deserve a shot.

  40. vdogg says: Jul 23, 2013 5:12 PM

    Guess we wont be hearing about all the draft picks coming from Ohio St and the U anymore!

  41. bubbybrister/shovelpass says: Jul 23, 2013 5:12 PM

    I wonder what the cops will say about Rex’s tattoo?

  42. tennesseeoilers says: Jul 23, 2013 5:13 PM

    Thirstymo said: “As a man with alot of tattoos, I think this is ridiculous, close-minded, and the intelligence behind it seems to be dated. I work a desk job and pay taxes just like everyone else. Then, I go home and watch Friends re-runs with my 16 year old daughter. Tattoos are very common now days, so move on.”

    I like tattoos myself, but this isn’t about teams being close-minded. It’s the same logic a business uses when they check prospective employees Facebook pages. It makes complete sense.

  43. twilson962 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:14 PM

    Hmm… Well… Hmm…

    I think this is an invasion of privacy. But at the same time, a player that doesn’t want his tats checked doesn’t HAVE to play in the NFL. If he doesn’t like it, go find another multi-million dollar job.

    The Army does the same thing. You are required to have any tattoos that are visible while in normal uniform removed. If you have any questionable tattoos, gang-related or obscene, you will need to have those removed too. Even if they aren’t visible in normal uniform.

    I can see both sides of the argument. I’m not sure where I land…

  44. chadsay says: Jul 23, 2013 5:15 PM

    So, the number 13 is commonly tattooed on members of the MS-13 gang as well as Bloods. I happen to have a 13 on me simply because it is my lucky number and I had no prior knowledge of it’s gang ties. Now, would I, a law abiding citizen be scratched off draft boards simply because I had a number that could possibly be gang related?

    Stupid waste of time this is. Just check the kids background and save both you and the players a shred of dignity.

  45. bigblue00 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:17 PM

    I remember when playing sports helped keep kids out of trouble….

  46. mogogo1 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:19 PM

    Surprised they weren’t doing that already. But plenty of signs concerning Hernandez were missed that didn’t require a tattoo expert. Nobody noticed his crew? Constantly renting out cars? Distant from everybody on the team? A history of troubles in college including being talked to about a shooting? Keeping an apartment within a few minutes of his beautiful home? (Maybe that could be written off to wanting to get rest away from the newborn, but in conjunction with the rest, still a red flag.)

  47. razzzmajazzz says: Jul 23, 2013 5:26 PM

    If a person decides to cover themselves in tattoos then they must live with any consequences from that which may arise. I personally will not hire anybody with visible tattoos, but that just me.

  48. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 23, 2013 5:28 PM

    Goodell fines people for their socks being too low… why does this surprise anyone???

    Players can’t have their socks too low but Owners can screw their customers out of money (Pilot Flying J) and Goodell does nothing….

  49. guiness17 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:35 PM

    demjoneses says: Jul 23, 2013 5:08 PM

    Also; I thought they reported none of AH tatts were gang related?
    ————————————————————
    Yup, they found no connection. Which makes this either a knee jerk reaction to a situation that doesn’t exist, or ownership is using the Hernandez situation as an excuse to do something they’ve wanted to for a while and could not justify.

    I lean towards the former. I think Hernandez is a black eye to the league, and they want to make it look like they’re doing something to prevent it…even if it is just smoke and mirrors.

  50. blizzard01 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:36 PM

    Speaking of ink- when are the Vikes going to sign their #1’s?

  51. youarejealousof6rings says: Jul 23, 2013 5:37 PM

    Six rings.

    #getonourlevel
    #checkourprestige
    #renamethelombardi

  52. sfsugator says: Jul 23, 2013 5:40 PM

    they need to start just not letting people in the NFL for ink that’s what the marine corps does.

  53. riverhorsey says: Jul 23, 2013 5:45 PM

    Actually, it’s surprising that it doesn’t already happen.
    x1000

    Prohibit any gang contact and warn the player. Get caught any you’re out of the league.

    Easy choice for the player.

  54. atwaterslaughter says: Jul 23, 2013 5:46 PM

    N. we F. ‘n L. aw league. It’s the Gestapo…hide your young.

  55. FlashPatterson says: Jul 23, 2013 5:49 PM

    deltaoracle says:
    Jul 23, 2013 4:36 PM
    Reportedly all Viking players and fans are getting tats from the movie gang “The Orphans.”
    “You see Warriors?! You see what happens when you mess with the Orphans?!”
    “Whoops! Run Away – run away!!!”
    ————————————————
    Uh… I’ve never seen someone stretch out that far to insult a football team. Do you even understand what you just said? This article doesn’t have anything to do with the Vikings.

  56. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 23, 2013 5:51 PM

    waitingguilty:

    You’re welcome.

    It sounded like you wanted to make a tangent move to further discussion so I thought I had both angles covered well, the quick brief straight answer, and the point for you to transition into your follow up commentary that I was anticipating. So turns out neither were in play, but I’m always safe and thorough when in doubt.

    I make it a point to never come up short.

  57. mblue24 says: Jul 23, 2013 5:57 PM

    This is BS. Now tattoos are going to be racist. Hell everybody I know pretty much has a tattoo. Guess I better check them out.

  58. thegreatsantini56 says: Jul 23, 2013 6:00 PM

    I know a girl that called in sick for work, and proceeded promptly to the beach. Upon returning, she posted photos on Face-Book. Her supervisor saw them and immediately fired her. The moral of the story is, if you don’t want people to know what you are doing don’t tell them. DUH.

  59. flexx91 says: Jul 23, 2013 6:04 PM

    rdrs68 says:
    Jul 23, 2013 5:10 PM
    nothing says ghetto like a tat

    I wouldn’t consider the Chopper Boys ghetto……

  60. NoHomeTeam says: Jul 23, 2013 6:21 PM

    thirstymofo says: As a man with alot of tattoos, I think this is ridiculous, close-minded, and the intelligence behind it seems to be dated. I work a desk job and pay taxes just like everyone else. Then, I go home and watch Friends re-runs with my 16 year old daughter. Tattoos are very common now days, so move on.

    ****************
    “You are one of three candidates we’re looking at for our Inside Sales position, Mr. Mofo, but we’ve noticed that you have a tattoo on your neck that reads ’69th Street Killas’ and we have been advised that such tattoos are frequently associated with violent, illegal behavior. Would you care to explain the origin of that tattoo?”

    Doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

  61. NoHomeTeam says: Jul 23, 2013 6:34 PM

    chadsay says: So, the number 13 is commonly tattooed on members of the MS-13 gang as well as Bloods. I happen to have a 13 on me simply because it is my lucky number and I had no prior knowledge of it’s gang ties. Now, would I, a law abiding citizen be scratched off draft boards simply because I had a number that could possibly be gang related

    ****************

    No, but you could certainly be asked about the nature of your tattoo. You could then calmly explain that it’s simply a lucky number for you with no gang affiliation. If you hail from Broken Horseshoe, Manitoba, it realistically goes no further. If, on the other hand, you and your Lucky13 come from an area where MS-13 has a strong presence, then perhaps a little more scrutiny is warranted, no?

  62. stopdk12 says: Jul 23, 2013 6:34 PM

    i love this country!!! this is great!

  63. lebronsinsecurity says: Jul 23, 2013 6:35 PM

    Nerf the world, be scared of everything.. Such pansy nonsense. They play a frickin’ game, they’re not splitting the atom here.

  64. GenXJay says: Jul 23, 2013 6:57 PM

    somewhere on thweb is a pic of ShAaron Rodgers tramp stamp. it says “BRAUN” in tribal.

  65. fdugrad says: Jul 23, 2013 7:22 PM

    So, prior to admittance into the NFL, these brutes that they are now considering checking for GANG TIES, are attending our institutes of higher learning as “student athletes!” How PROUD those universities and the NCAA should be!!

  66. claymus1 says: Jul 23, 2013 7:25 PM

    We as a people have forgotten how to be responsibly free. This is the beginning of the aftermath. Nauseating,but most likely inevitable when folks have been piled atop one another for centuries. Tragic…Liberty in America, R.I.P. Worst part is, most folks do not even realize how far down the tube we already are. Any society that relinquishes ANY amount of liberty to obtain any degree of security will SURELY lose both..I paraphrase, you get the point.

  67. obsessedvikingfan says: Jul 23, 2013 7:35 PM

    Reportedly all Viking players and fans are getting tats from the movie gang “The Orphans.”
    “You see Warriors?! You see what happens when you mess with the Orphans?!”
    “Whoops! Run Away – run away!!!”
    __________________________________

    WOW. Grow up

  68. bucfandango says: Jul 23, 2013 8:24 PM

    It’s about time for a “conversation” on tattoo control. Background checks for anyone wanting a tat and a 3 day waiting period.

  69. radrntn says: Jul 23, 2013 8:27 PM

    why do they need to do that…all of their felonies should already be on record.

  70. datsanono says: Jul 23, 2013 8:48 PM

    The NFL is a private league meaning it’s all funded by private citizens. If they want to check tattoos they have very right. If you don’t like it then don’t support it! The govt. Cannot step in and say they have no right to do it…they have every right!

  71. istateyourname says: Jul 23, 2013 9:33 PM

    Just because you have a “I Rent Cars to Kill People From” tattoo doesn’t mean you’re a bad person…

  72. phillies08wfc says: Jul 23, 2013 9:45 PM

    This is a privacy issue. Imagine going for a job interview and having your prospective employer ask you to strip down so they can examine your tattoos? That would kind of suck wouldn’t it? With that being said, if you are lucky enough to have the talent to make it to the NFL you have to know right away that you will forever be a public figure so you will be sacrificing parts of your privacy. Anybody with NFL dreams that also might have some questionable ink better have it removed/covered up before the scouting combine- if not they deserve what they get.

  73. ehaviland says: Jul 23, 2013 10:11 PM

    The NFL and team ownership has every right to do as they see fit… These players are EMPLOYEES. Bottom line.

    If I were prospective employer, and I had potential employees with gang tats and connections, I’d think once or twice about hiring such employees to represent my brand, Especially at the salaries these players command.

    This isn’t the saying that people can’t make mistakes in their past and change for the better, but when it comes to a $20 million contract or more… I’ll be doing my homework.

    Tats and all.

  74. dadsource says: Jul 24, 2013 12:48 AM

    The NFL is a revenue-driven business with an image to uphold. That image is crumbling, and to fans raking out their hard-earned dollars, well- we are about to head elsewhere if the product is pro street gang. This isn’t gangsta rap or the NBA!

  75. polarbroncofan says: Jul 24, 2013 5:17 AM

    I like it! And if the NFL’s smart, they’ll send any and all of these gangbangers/gang wannabes back to the hood where they belong. Good riddance!

  76. yellowxdiscipline says: Jul 24, 2013 6:23 AM

    This makes too much sense.. Should be done at the combine so we can prevent these scumbags from ever getting into the NFL.

  77. corvusrex96 says: Jul 24, 2013 7:27 AM

    Check the tattoos of players right after they begin checking for tattoos of the front office employees . Same thing for testing players for recreational drugs lets start checking the front office people to see what is what . Stop treating players different that other employees

  78. mackie66 says: Jul 24, 2013 1:13 PM

    As a former member of a gang task force, I am, as usual, surprised the NFL has just noticed tattoos. These tats can be read like a news paper if you know your gang symbols. Not saying Hernandez has any, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find he has one or two gang tats. What is the NFL prepared to do when they find gang tats on NFL arms?
    Some interesting questions appear.

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