BOSTON (Reuters) - The National Football League players’ union said on Wednesday it filed a grievance on behalf of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, jailed on murder charges, as the union claims he is owed an $82,000 workout bonus.
Hernandez was cut from the Patriots in June shortly after he was arrested and accused of the execution-style murder of a friend, 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.
“We are not tone-deaf to what the allegations are in this case, but for the benefit of all players, there are important precedents here we must protect,” said Carl Francis, a spokesman for the NFL Players Association, in an emailed statement.
The union said that Hernandez, who was signed to a $40 million contract as tight end for the Patriots before he was cut from the team, is entitled to the bonus for attending at least 90 percent of his team’s off-season workouts.
A spokesman for the Patriots was not immediately available to comment.
Hernandez is being held in the Bristol County Jail awaiting trial and is due to be arraigned at Fall River Superior Court on September 6.
Prosecutors said Hernandez and two other men drove Lloyd to an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez’s house in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, on June 17 before shooting Lloyd five times, including twice while he lay on the ground.
A Rolling Stone article published on Wednesday claimed that prior to Lloyd’s murder, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick had warned Hernandez that he was close to being cut due to concerns about his behavior. The magazine cited unnamed sources.
Writing by Richard Valdmanis; editing by Scott Malone and Matthew Lewis