NFL Network reporter and former Boston Herald beat writer Ian Rapoport (above) got a firsthand taste of the dark side of Aaron Hernandez when he was still playing for the New England Patriots.
“When we first exchanged numbers, he called me over and said, ‘Hey, I just want you to know, you’re my guy. If you need anything, let me know, I will help you out if I can. But I just want you to know, if you f— me over, I’ll kill you,'” Rapoport told MMQB.com.
While Rapaport tried to laugh off the strange interaction with the then-professional football player, it was said within earshot of fellow reporter, William Bendetson from CBS.
“He was standing there and had listened and we kind of turned to each other and both laughed,” Rapoport said. “And then the first text I got after it became clear that Hernandez was the suspect in the murder investigation was from William Bendetson, who was like, ‘Hey, remember that day in the locker room?'”
While still a star tight end with the Patriots, Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Odin Lloyd in June 2013. He was immediately dropped by New England and subsequently found guilty on April 15, 2015.
The 27-year-old committed suicide while serving a life sentence at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, on Wednesday — coincidentally the same day that his former team was being honored at the White House for their Super Bowl LI victory.
On Thursday, his passing was officially ruled a suicide by Massachusetts chief medical examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields, who wrote in a statement that the “manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging.”
Hernandez reportedly left three suicide notes behind in his cell and had a bible verse written on his forehead when his body was discovered.
Rapaport, now the top reporter at the NFL Network, also recalled that when Hernandez was a rookie with the Patriots in 2010, he was relatively shy — especially when compared to rambunctious teammate Rob Gronkowski.
“He was definitely very quiet, he took a while to come out of this shell. I don’t know about my first memory, but my first couple were a really reserved and quiet type of guy who seemed uncomfortable with a lot of the spotlight,” Rapaport told Sports Illustrated’s MMQB.
“His locker was right next to Gronkowski, two rookies, buddies, came into the team together and paired together a lot. They both got a lot of publicity and interview requests and I always remember Hernandez kind of being uncomfortable with that. He was fine, and usually willing to do something but definitely kind of shy.”