Tebow was with Hernandez at 2007 bar fight, GPD says
Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 9:49 p.m.
Tim Tebow was concerned about his name getting out in the media after unsuccessfully trying to break up a fight between Aaron Hernandez and a Gainesville restaurant manager while both were teammates for the Florida Gators six years ago, a police report shows.
Hernandez, a former tight end with the New England Patriots, has been charged with murder in connection with a Massachusetts shooting death and is being investigated in another shooting there. Tebow, a former Gator quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner who played on two national championship teams, recently signed with the Patriots.
A Gainesville Police Department report shows that Tebow, Hernandez and Shaun Young were at The Swamp restaurant and bar on April 28, 2007.
Hernandez started to argue with manager Michael Taphorn about a bar bill, the report said. Hernandez, who was 17 at the time, ordered the drinks but refused to pay when he was given the bill, according to the report.
Tebow told police Taphorn was being irrational and "getting in Hernandez's" face. Tebow said he didn't want Hernandez to get in trouble because he was a football player, and the manager knew he was a player. Tebow offered to pay the bill and leave in peace.
The argument continued as Taphorn escorted Hernandez out of the restaurant, police said. When Taphorn turned to go inside, Hernandez punched him on the left side of the head before running around the corner, leaving a black sneaker behind.
Taphorn told police that Tebow and Young ran around the corner with Hernandez.
One of the officers found Tebow and Young, but Hernandez was gone. The officer said Tebow told police he tried to break up the argument, identifying himself and Hernandez as UF players. Tebow said he asked Hernandez to leave and offered to pay the bill.
Tebow identified Hernandez for the police, the report said.
Taphorn complained to police about hearing loss and wanted to press battery charges, the report said. One of the officers told Tebow it would be in Hernandez's "best interest to contact us and give his side of the story."
Tebow told the officer he would try to find Hernandez, but that he also was concerned "his name would get out to the media as being involved in the incident."
The officer assured Tebow that he would not contact the media and that he was being listed in the report "as a witness only."
Hours later, around 3 a.m., officers found Hernandez at the Cabana Beach South Apartments, along with Tebow and Young.
The officer said Hernandez didn't seem intoxicated and was "very polite and professional."
Hernandez and Tebow told police they both had contacted then-coach Urban Meyer about the incident, and the officer said GPD would not pursue any charges against Hernandez for underage drinking but that it would be noted in the report "so coaches could handle it internally."
Two days after the incident, Taphorn told police he'd been to his doctor and found out his eardrum had burst as a result of the blow to the head and that it would take four to six weeks to heal.
A follow-up report said that several weeks later, Taphorn told police he might request dropping the battery charge and that he had been contacted by legal staff and coaches at UF to work "on an agreement, however nothing has been finalized."
Hernandez is being sued in South Florida by a man who claims Hernandez shot him. He also was briefly questioned by Gainesville police investigating a 2007 shooting incident.
Hernandez has been charged with murder and other charges in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, 27, in Massachusetts. He also is being investigated regarding a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston in which two people were killed.
Calls placed to UF officials seeking comment had not been returned by late Tuesday.