Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was a "heavy user" of PCP and believed people were trying to kill him, according to a lengthy Rolling Stone profile published online Wednesday.
Much of the article rehashes details already made public in news reports about Hernandez's murder trial and his bumpy history at the University of Florida. Yet in interviews with family and friends close to Hernandez, the authors, Rolling Stone contributing editor Paul Solotaroff and Boston Herald columnist Ron Borges, offer new insights into the case and the former Patriot's tumultuous life.
Here are the most interesting tidbits:
The juiciest piece of Rolling Stone's deep dive focuses on Hernandez's alleged use of PCP, or angel dust. Hernandez reportedly fell in with PCP users at the end of his high school days, and eventually became a user himself.
One anonymous friend of the family quoted in the piece even seems to blame PCP for Hernandez's behavior: "Aaron’s out of his mind.... He’s been twisted on dust now for more than a year, which is when all of this crazy shit started."
It's been previously reported that Hernandez smoked marijuana or, as the profile puts it, that he had a "bottomless taste for chronic." The authors add that Hernandez called Odin Lloyd, the man he is accused of murdering, "Bluntmaster" because of Lloyd's proficiency in rolling blunts.
Friends also tell Rolling Stone that Hernandez often smoked "three or four blunts" to unwind on his way home from games.
In the past year, Hernandez began to fear for his life, according to Rolling Stone. In February, he flew to meet Patriots head coach Bill Belichick at the NFL Combine to tell him he thought his seedier friends "were actually trying to kill him," a person close to Hernandez tells the magazine.
Hernandez then reportedly began carrying a rifle in his gym bag, and installed a new security system at his home.
"He was very paranoid, but was that because of his addictions or because he was trying to leave the gang?" the source says.
Belichick, after hearing Hernandez's fear that he was a marked man, told the tight end to lay low and rent a safe place to crash. Hernandez then leased a condo in Franklin, Mass. — the same place where alleged accomplices Ernest Wallace and Carlos Ortiz were staying.
Hernandez's dad, Dennis, was a former star football player who got a scholarship to play at the University of Connecticut. But then, according to friends, he developed a bad drug habit, occasionally smoking crack. He also allegedly "beat up dealers for drugs and cash" and bet heavily on sports, according to Rolling Stone.
Dennis died in 2006, when Hernandez was 16 years old — an incident that the magazine suggests sent Hernandez down a dark path.
"He wasn’t the same kid, the way he spoke to me," his mother, Terri, told USA Today in 2009. "The shock of losing his dad, there was so much anger."
Soon after Dennis died, Terri married Jeffrey Cummings, an alleged cocaine dealer whose presence led Hernandez to spend more time away from home. Out of the house, Hernandez began to hang around with Ortiz and other dubious characters, according to Rolling Stone.
Earlier this year, Hernandez nearly cost himself a spot on the Patriots when he skipped training camp exercises and meetings with his therapist, according to Rolling Stone. He also reportedly got into a "loud dispute" with his fiancée and punched through a window.
When Belichick found out about that incident, he "exploded and tendered notice: Any more disruptions and [Hernandez] would be traded or cut at the end of the 2013 season."
Hernandez's coach at Florida, Urban Meyer, assigned him three mentors to keep him in line: Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, twin All-American linemen, and, yes, Tim Tebow.
Tebow, the magazine says, was assigned to be Hernandez's "life instructor."