Gators erasing Aaron Hernandez

Updated: July 26, 2013, 2:10 PM ET
By Brett McMurphy | ESPN

In late June, the University of Florida began removing photographs and images of Aaron Hernandez throughout the school's football facility.

[+] EnlargeHernandez brick
@ProfSpikerSaying it's not appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez, Florida removed a brick outside its stadium that recognized the former All-American.

On Thursday, the school worked to remove the last -- and most publicly visible -- reminder of Hernandez. Florida will dig up and remove a brick outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium honoring Hernandez, a former All-American at the school.

The school began distancing itself from Hernandez on June 26 when he was charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. The school immediately started removing photographs of Hernandez located in the locker room, team area, football offices and facility and throughout the stadium.

"We didn't feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez. We put together an immediate plan after the initial news broke to remove his likeness and name in various private and public areas in the facility, such as the South Endzone team area, locker room, football offices, Heavener Complex, Kornblau Lobby and the brick display entrance to the football facility," the school said in a statement.

"We were able to implement some of the changes immediately and this [brick removal] was a more complex process to complete with our vendors. The plan was to have everything completed before the end of July."

Florida players named All-Americans are honored with a brick in their name, located on the Gator Walk entrance in front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Hernandez Brick
University of FloridaAaron Hernandez played at Florida from 2007-09 and was the SEC's first winner of the Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's top tight end.

Urban Meyer, who coached Hernandez at Florida, told GatorCountry.com in 2008 he got emotional the first time he saw the bricks honoring the school's All-Americans.

"Guys gave their life and their soul to make this program great, and now they're permanently part of the history in the greatest stadium in all of college football," Meyer said in 2008. "Out there where everybody can see them and embrace what they've done."

Hernandez played at Florida from 2007-09 and earned All-America honors as a junior. In 2009, Hernandez became the SEC's first winner of the Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's top tight end. He left school early and was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft by the New England Patriots.

After Hernandez was charged with murder, he was released from the Patriots. Several other organizations have also distanced themselves from Hernandez.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, Ohio, removed an award-winning photograph of Hernandez from public view after receiving complaints from visitors. Electronic Arts said it took Hernandez out of its "Madden NFL 25" and "NCAA Football 14" video games. Panini, a trading card and memorabilia company, also removed Hernandez stickers from 500,000 of its sticker books, which were already produced but had yet to hit the shelves.

Hernandez pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and is being held without bail.

Brett McMurphy | email

College football reporter

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