Urban Meyer finally opens up on Aaron Hernandez in interview

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

By and large, the issues swirling around Aaron Hernandez and his upcoming trial for first-degree murder had not been touched upon by his coach while at Florida, Urban Meyer.

Now the head coach at Ohio State, Meyer recently sent a few text messages to the Columbus Dispatch to clear some inconsistencies up, but it was not quite enough.

Finally, Meyer sat down for an interview with the Dispatch’s Tim May to go into further detail regarding his personal relationship with the highly trouble former New England Patriots tight end.

Meyer would open the interview acknowledging the fact that he has purposefully stayed away from the issue until now.

“I’ve been, on purpose, staying away from this whole thing, but I’m not now,” Meyer told The Dispatch on Saturday, before embarking on a family vacation. And he added that, foremost, his “prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.”

Below are several pertinent aspects of the interview.

[Related: Urban Meyer’s family take to Twitter to defend their father and husband]

First, Meyer was asked whether or not the personal attacks have bothered him lately. Many members of the media and fans have pinned Hernandez’s legal issues at Florida on the former Gators head coach.

Whenever someone attacks your character, our staff — people aren’t aware of all the things we do in terms of being a mentor, dealing with issues and all that. Yeah, I have been avoiding talking about this because you’re talking about a serious crime; you’re talking about families that have been very affected by this. And to pull something back personal that isn’t true from four to seven years ago, that’s mind-boggling to me.

Meyer did have Hernandez over for dinners and events. The tight end is from Connecticut, and he did not have any family down in central Florida. However, the coach admits that he does think about whether he could have done more.

Absolutely. When one of our (Florida assistant) coaches started recruiting him up in (Bristol) Connecticut, it was right after his father had died suddenly. There was a lot of emotional trauma with that. Years ago, that would weigh forever on my chest — “What could we do? What could we do?” Then I’d talk with other coaches, and in essence the conversation was you do the best you can. But at the end of the day, there is free will. You can’t change people. You can set the table and try to help them, make sure there is a spiritual component in their life, make sure there is a family atmosphere. And that’s what we try to do — it’s what we’ve tried to do everywhere.

Basically, Meyer does not at all agree with the fact that some out there have called him an “enabler.”

When I hear that, the first thing I know is it’s not true. And second, I don’t spend much time thinking about it. I’m worried about my players and my team and my family. Years ago, (such criticism) used to bother me. That’s why I don’t read much anymore; I just stay away from it.

He goes on to call the issues Hernandez faced in Gainesville as “minor.”

Relatively speaking, he had very minor stuff. He was questioned about being a witness (to a shooting), and he had an argument in a restaurant (in which Hernandez allegedly struck an employee in an argument over an unpaid bill), and he was suspended one game (reportedly for a failed marijuana test). Other than that, he was three years a good player. That was it.

What do you think about this messy situation? Should Meyer be held more accountable for Hernandez’s turning to a life of crime, and potentially murder? Or are we all individuals who should take responsibility for our own actions?

Let us know in the comments section below!

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  • Juli Warfel Bitler

    The only one to blame for Hernandez’s issues is Hernandez. Blame the parents, teachers, coaches??? That’s garbage. Aaron Hernandez made his own decisions.