Front office sources from two NFL teams have confirmed to National Football Post that their background research on Aaron Hernandez in preparation for the 2010 draft revealed the tight end had hints of gang ties and associations in his past.
Hernandez, who is jailed in Massachusetts on first-degree murder charges, was drafted in the fourth round of the draft by the New England Patriots that year.
A first-round or second-round talent, Hernandez was taken completely off the board by one of the teams and regarded as only worth a seventh-round no-risk flier by the other franchise. In addition to the speculation of being tied to gangs, Hernandez had multiple failed drug tests while at the University of Florida, which also contributed greatly to the character questions about the star tight end.
NFL scouts and cross-checkers do detailed work, trying to leave no stone unturned when evaluating potential draft picks. Even the smallest of transgressions often leads to a red flag when it comes to assessing a player's character. One of the club officials said that while the gang ties were never completely verified by his organization, the hints and rumors of such were strong enough to steer the front office clear of Hernandez altogether on draft day.
TMZ’s website reported Thursday that Hernandez had possible gang ties, displaying a photo of him as a 17-year-old in Bristol, Conn.
Hernandez was arrested Wednesday for the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, whose body was found June 17 about a mile from the tight end's home in North Attleboro, Mass. One other man, Carlos Ortiz, is being held in Connecticut, believed to be connected to the shooting, while police are still looking for others possibly tied to the case.
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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com