coach of the New England Patriots often visited with the Meyer when he coached the Gators.
Belichick grew to trust Meyer and his player evaluations. He drafted or signed more than
a few of his former players including Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Jeff Demps,
Tim Tebow, and of course, Aaron Hernandez.
There was no question about the talent of Hernandez, but there were a lot of whispers about
his character before the 2010 NFL Draft. Belichick knows just about everything about the
player he evaluates, including the gum their girlfriend chews, so don't think for a second the
Hoodie didn't see the red flags that surrounded Hernandez. I'm sure he asked Meyer straight up
if Hernandez was worth the risk and I'm sure Meyer's answer went something like this:
"He's a good kid. If you get him in the right program and surround him with players with
great leadership who will stay on him, Hernandez will not only be an All-Pro, but a good
teammate and a person the organization can be proud of."
That's not unlike many college coaches, who realize the more players they send to the NFL,
the better they look. Hearing Brent Musburger tell the college football nation that "Urban
Meyer has a great program that sends a lot of players to the NFL", is good for the image,
not to mention the recruiting game and contract extensions.
The Patriots took a chance on Hernandez when other teams would not. Despite having
first-round talent, the former Gator slid all the way to the fourth round, a spot normally
reserved for players you've never heard of, matriculating at colleges you never knew existed.
Everybody in the NFL seemed to think that Hernandez was a walking time bomb. After he
exploded on the Patriots with his arrest for an alleged murder, good ole Urban Meyer hasn't
said very much. I'm sure when he sees Belichick's number appear on his cell phone, he lets
it go to straight to voicemail. Nope, the Urban legend is running from the Hernandez mess
just as fast as he ran from Gainesville when things got a little dicey.
Many of us in the country didn't know how dicey things got during Meyer's reign in Florida,
because, as Tiger Woods famously said, "Winning takes care of everything." Meyer cleaned
up the mess left by Ron Zook and turned the Gators into two-time national champions. But
his program was stained because of the frequency his players showed up on the police
During his six years in Gainseville, 25 players got arrested a total of 31 times. In 2007 when
Hernandez and Father Tim Tebow went to a bar, Hernandez was accused of blowing out the
ear drum of a waiter with a sucker punch. The responding officer recommended a felony
battery charge for Hernandez, but after Tebow and Hernandez called Meyer after the incident,
that charge somehow went away. Winning takes care of everything.
After a year away from coaching, Meyer returned to the sidelines at Ohio State where all they
did in 2012 was win. The Buckeyes went 12-0 in Meyer's inaugural season in Columbus. That
party is over. Hernandez ruined it for him just as he did for Belichick and the Patriots.
You won't see Meyer on ESPN's "Sunday Conversation" anytime soon. He wants to distance
himself from Hernandez, a player he went to Bristol, Connecticut to give a scholarship.
Hernandez helped him win a national championship at Florida and become the most
successful coach in school history. We haven't even heard him say, "I'm totally shocked.
Aaron Hernandez was a good person. I never thought he could be involved in something like
this." Nope. Nothing. Meyer doesn't want any part of Hernandez and won't be talking about him, that's for sure.
The can of worms could be about to be ripped open on Meyer, thought. His record outside
the lines will be brought to light, and it's not a good one. 25 players arrested 31 times in six
years? I'm not sure the Miami Hurricanes were ever that prolific when it came to being booked
and finger printed.
Meyer will have to explain why Hernandez, for all his failed drug tests, was only suspended
for one game. He'll be asked if Hernandez was given preferential treatment just because
he was a star player. And he'll be asked what he told Belichick about Hernandez that allowed
the Patriots coach to gamble a player who had a great make up on the field, but the make up
of a natural born killer off it.
Urban Meyer, hello? I can't hear you.