Accused murderer Aaron Hernandez has a new supporter: the National Football League players union is hitting up the New England Patriots for an $82,000 bonus Hernandez won during preseason.
The former Pro Bowl tight end earned the money through a workout incentive program and was scheduled to receive the bonus August 1st, reports Fox sports. Then he murdered semi-pro linebacker Odin Lloyd, according to the district attorney’s office of Bristol County, Massachusetts. The Patriots released Hernandez immediately after he was arrested in late June.
The NFL Players Association is arguing that since the bonus was earned before Odin Lloyd was killed and before Hernandez was charged with anything, he should still get the money.
The Patriots have made it clear from the beginning of the scandal that they are distancing themselves from Hernandez. After firing him, the team even allowed fans to trade in their Hernandez jerseys.
A bigger question will come into play at the end of March when Hernandez is supposed to get the final installment of his signing bonus. Interestingly, the Patriots would have been able to keep the $3.25 million if they had kept Hernandez on the roster. The collective bargaining agreement reached in 2011 said that in the event a player is arrested, the team can keep the signing bonus for the duration of his jail time.
However, with the Patriots’ decision to keep mum on the workout bonus and the team’s attempts to sever ties with Hernandez and his image, it’s probably a safe bet that there will be a fight over the signing bonus as well.