UF removes plaque honoring Aaron Hernandez
Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 9:48 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 6:18 p.m.
Florida is in the final stages of erasing Aaron Hernandez from in and around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The 23-year-old Hernandez, the former Gator and New England Patriots tight end, is in jail in Massachusetts awaiting trial on six charges, including first-degree murder in the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty. On Thursday morning, Hernandez's All-American brick in front of the Heavener Complex was removed by workers with All Seasons Planning, Inc. and taken to the company's plant in Lake City. The plaque honored Hernandez's 2009 season in which he was named a First-Team All-American by the Associated Press after leading the Gators with 68 receptions for 850 yards and five touchdowns. Florida players named All-Americans are honored with a brick located on the Gator Walk entrance in front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Hernandez also won the John Mackey Award that year for the nation's most outstanding tight end. “We didn't feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez,” UF said in a prepared statement. “We put together an immediate plan after the initial news broke to remove his likeness and name in various private and public areas in the facility, such as the South End Zone team area, locker room, football offices Heavener Complex Kornblau Lobby and the brick display entrance to the football facility. “We were able to implement some of the changes immediately and this (brick removal) was a more complex process to complete with our vendors. “The plan was to have everything completed before the end of July.” Even prior to this plan, Hernandez's John Mackey Award had not been on display in the lobby of the Heavener Complex because the school had not received it. Committee chairman Jerry Mackey Sr. was not ready to comment of the status of the award when contacted Thursday by The Sun. “It's a delicate situation,” Mackey said. “First and foremost, we have a person that lost their life. We're not going to talk about the award just yet. We do send our condolences to the family who lost their loved one. That's the extent of our comment right now. I think (after the trial) would be the appropriate time.” Other organizations also have distanced themselves from Hernandez. The Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, Ohio, removed an award-winning photograph of Hernandez from public view after receiving complaints from visitors. EA Sports took Hernandez out of its “Madden NFL 25” and “NCAA Football 14” video games.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.