AARON Hernandez, one of the top young stars in the NFL, was taken from his home in handcuffs yesterday morning, more than a week after a Boston semi-professional player was found dead in an industrial park a mile from Hernandez’s house.
Less than two hours later, the New England Patriots announced that the 23-year-old had been let go from the team.
Odin Lloyd, 27, a semi-professional football player for the Boston Bandits, was found dead on 17 June. Police ruled the death a homicide, but did not say how he died.
Lloyd’s relatives said he was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée, that the two men were friends and that they were out together on the last night of Lloyd’s life.
Hernandez’s arrest is a setback for the National Football League. Despite efforts to protect itself from controversy, the league has been dragged into a string of scandals by players stretching from OJ Simpson’s murder trial in 1995 to more recent cases involving dog-fighting rings, injury bounties, spying and gambling.
In a separate case, Hernandez has been sued by Alexander Bradley, a Connecticut man who said he shot him in the face after the two left a Miami strip club in February, causing him to lose an eye. A Florida police official said last week that law enforcement had investigated the shooting, but abandoned the case after Mr Bradley refused to co-operate.
Hernandez had emerged as a potent tight-end in the NFL, earning him a $4 million (£2.7m) a year contract.