The Florida Gators are no longer celebrating Aaron Hernandez.
The University Athletic Association, which funds the school’s athletic programs, has removed all references to Hernandez in and around the football stadium. The latest and most public one came Thursday when construction workers pulled up a granite plaque commemorating Hernandez as a first team All-America selection in 2009. The brick was cemented into the ground outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“We didn’t feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez,” the UAA said in a 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 school started distancing itself from Hernandez on June 26, the day he was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. The school removed photographs of Hernandez from the locker room, the team area, the football facility and throughout the stadium.
Hernandez played at Florida from 2007-09 and earned All-America honors as a junior.
Meanwhile, newly released surveillance photos show Hernandez holding what authorities say appears to be a gun, shortly after Lloyd was shot to death.
The photos, taken from Hernandez’s home surveillance system, are in more than 100 pages of court records released by Attleboro District Court. Prosecutors have previously described the photos in court and in affidavits, but this is the public’s first look at images showing Hernandez holding a gun both before and after the killing.
Four pictures show Hernandez in his basement holding a gun shortly after Lloyd was killed, an affidavit released Thursday says. The surveillance was cut off within minutes.
Two other photos show what authorities say is Hernandez in his living room, a few hours before Lloyd’s killing, also holding what they say is a gun.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was peppered with questions about Hernandez on Thursday.
Surrounded by about 50 media members, Brady was soft-spoken and thoughtful as he talked at length for the first time since his former tight end’s name surfaced in connection with Lloyd’s death.
“Certainly, it’s a very tragic thing that happened and someone loses their life,” Brady said during a 17-minute session on the team’s practice field, “but all those things were out of the players’ control here. We’re not really a part of that situation.”
He declined to answer several questions, saying he had been advised not to. They included whether he had spoken with Hernandez or whether Hernandez had apologized to him after the tight end was linked to the investigation.