In an age when everything goes viral, supporting a friend who is accused of murder by wearing a hat asking for his release may not be the smartest thing to do. Not if you’re a professional athlete anyway.
Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey apologized on Monday after he and his brother Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins were photographed wearing "Free Hernandez" caps in support of accused murderer and former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez.
"I fully recognize the seriousness of the situation involving my former teammate, and I regret that my actions appear to make light of that serious situation. I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions," he tweeted.
ESPN.com's John Clayton reported Sunday that the Steelers had planned to talk to Pouncey about the photos but it’s unknown if the team did speak to him before or after the apology was issued.
Mike Pouncey hasn’t issued any apologies but ESPN.com reports that the Dolphins were expected to discuss the photos with him.
The Pounceys are twins that played with Hernandez at the University of Florida. They were with Hernandez at the Venue nightclub in 2007 on the night of a shooting that left two men wounded. Hernandez was briefly questioned by police after the shooting, but at the time they did not see him as a suspect.
ESPN reports they wore the hats on Saturday at a Miami nightclub, where they were celebrating their upcoming birthdays before the photos started circulating on the web.
Hernandez is being held without bail and is accused of the execution-style murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd. He has pleaded not guilty.
The Patriots cut him shortly after his arrest last month.
In related news, the Pro Football Hall of Fame removed a photo of Hernandez from their display after complaints.
According to the Cleveland Plains Dealer, the 2010 photo of Hernandez scoring a TD was an award-winning image from the annual HOF photo contest. Hall officials took it down earlier this week.
“In the spirit of good taste we thought we’d take it down,” Joe Horrigan, the Hall’s vice president of communication and exhibits told the Plains Dealer.