Coach Meyer speaks out on Hernandez

Since all of the Aaron Hernandez news started to break a few weeks ago Coach Meyer has done his best to stay out of the headlines. While many writers have dragged his name into the story to try and gather their own headlines and hits to their stories. I am choosing not to link any of these stories because they are sensational at best and almost entirely unfounded and under researched by the “media members” attempting to lay blame at the feet of Urban Meyer.

When asked about the case recently Coach Meyer declined to comment to respect the family of the slain victim/victims? Aaron Hernandez is being accused of many horrific crimes in the media but so far only accused of one actual murder in the actual Court of Law and not the Court of Public Opinion. Coach Meyer is a public figure and he has many detractors and although most in the OSU fanbase would jump on those bandwagons a few years back when he was at Florida and ruining Buckeyes NC dreams the truth is we didn’t know what kind of program he ran we weren’t privy to the day to day operations and how he handled his players and program. it can be argued we still don’t know fully how he has handled the OSU program but I can see with my own eyes the way he and his coaches spend time preparing the players for a future outside of football. How they bring their principles and beliefs to the program and share those with the players and hold them to those standards. The players are responsible for their own actions and are treated really well when they are doing well and are treated really badly when they don’t but in both cases you can see and feel the love Coach Meyer has for his players. You can sense how when bad things happens it weighs heavily on Coach Meyer and when they do great things how proud he is of his players.

Much of the criticism against Meyer is “Monday Morning Quaterbacking” looking back in hindsight and trying to judge Meyer on what he didn’t do and not what he did do. Some of the accusations against Meyer are incredulous and insane. I have seen people say that Meyer and Florida paid off the police not to charge his players with multiple shootings and assaults. As if it is just that easy to do and that no one in the police or State Attorney General office would notice Florida players getting a pass on murder charges.

Enough of my opinions lets read what Coach Meyer has to say in his own words. Again some on the “media” will twist these words or worse claim he is lying but they don’t have any proof of the contrary and are just spouting their personal opinions and NOT FACTS. So here thanks to Tim May at The Columbus Dispatch we have Coach Meyers own words on this subject….

“I’ve been, on purpose, staying away from this whole thing, but I’m not now,” Meyer told The Dispatch yesterday before embarking on a family vacation. And he added that, foremost, his “prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.”
Yet aspersions have been cast in some media circles that the way Meyer and others tried to help Hernandez work through some of his personal challenges might have served to “enable” him. In a brief interview yesterday, Meyer refuted that claim and others:

Question: Have the recent personal attacks on you in relation to this case bothered you?

Answer: 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.

Q: Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun wrote a week ago that you and your wife, Shelley, welcomed Hernandez into your home at times back then, offering him family-style exposure among other ways of trying to show him the right path. Do you think now about what else you could have done?

A: 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.

Q: So how do you react when someone uses the term “enabler” to describe how you handled Hernandez?

A: 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.

Q: What do you recall of Hernandez’s brushes with the law during his time at Florida?

A: 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.

Q: It has been suggested that Hernandez failed four to seven drug tests in his time at Florida.

A: I just received an email from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests by Hernandez covered up by the University of Florida or the coaching staff. This is absolutely not true. Hernandez was held to the same drug-testing policy as every other player.

Q: In regards to the shooting incident, in which two people in a car were wounded, a police report surfaced that showed Hernandez and teammate Reggie Nelson were questioned but never charged. What do you recall of that episode?

A: I don’t remember his name in (the report). I remember it was about a one-hour discussion. One of my coaches came in and said, “Hey, they’re getting questioned for this.” … I said, “Well, what do I need to do?” And he said, “Nothing. They’re not involved.” And that was it. They weren’t questioned for (doing) the shooting. They were questioned as a witness.”

Q: You mentioned that your concern for Hernandez rose most when he occasionally would visit his hometown.

A: His people back home said, “Keep him (in Florida), don’t let him come back home” (because of what they saw as unsettling influences). That was a big part of it, now that I remember it. And I didn’t understand the seriousness of it. People warned me and the coaches warned me, saying, “He can’t go back home.” Again, though, I had no idea we’d be talking about what we are now.

Q: Many look upon college head coaches, despite a three- to five-year exposure with an athlete, as being quasi-parents responsible in part for how an athlete turns out.

A: Absolutely that is part of our responsibility. Now can it completely wear you out in worrying about what’s going on 24/7? Yes. But it is our responsibility. We represent the university. We’re like the CEO of a company, but the difference is we’re in the public eye. And then the stories that get told and printed, with the inaccuracies, that’s what just wears you out.

Our program, in my opinion, does as good of a job as anybody in America in involving families, making it a family atmosphere, getting to know our players and trying to develop our players in all areas of their life — social, spiritual, athletic, everything. Our coaches coach, but that’s a small part of it. … It’s why we work so hard on life after football with these kids.

tmay@dispatch.com
@TIM_MAYsports