Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators speaks with Aaron Hernandez #81 during the game against the Troy Trojans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) -- Tim Tebow attempted to keep Aaron Hernandez out of trouble during a
2007 bar squabble while both were playing at the University of Florida,
but not even the mild-mannered, Bible-toting quarterback could keep the
hot-headed tight end from slugging a Gainesville, Fla., restaurant
manager and puncturing his ear drum.
Still, after Tebow's efforts
failed, it appears the school or football program might have gotten
Hernandez off the hook by reaching a settlement with the manager to keep
him from pursuing charges, according to a supplemental investigation
report on the altercation obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
a 17-year-old freshman at the time who had not even played a down for
the Gators, got into an argument over an unpaid tab for two drinks,
according to an incident report obtained by USA TODAY Sports. Hernandez
was not of legal drinking age.
report said a waitress at The Swamp Restaurant brought Hernandez the
drinks, which he consumed before refusing to pay the bill. Manager
Michael Taphorn confronted Hernandez, then asked him to leave. Outside
the bar, Hernandez told police, Taphorn got into his face. When Taphorn
turned to re-enter the bar, police said Hernandez hit him on the side of
According to the report, Hernandez did not deny throwing the punch.
original incident report lists Tebow only as "Witness 1," but his
identity has been verified to USA TODAY Sports by Gainesville Police
Department spokesman Ben Tobias and the supplemental report. Tebow,
according to the supplemental report, "was concerned that his name would
get out to the media as being involved in the incident," and that's why
he was anonymously listed as a witness.
The incident took place
around 1 a.m. ET on April 28, and Hernandez left the area immediately
after the altercation. When a responding officer could not locate him,
the officer interviewed Tebow, who said he tried to resolve the problem,
according to the supplemental report. Tebow said he urged Hernandez to
leave peacefully and tried to make arrangements to pay the bill. Later,
when police interviewed Hernandez, Tebow was present.
declined immediate medical treatment, but when he was examined the next
day by doctors, they discovered that his right ear drum had been broken,
an injury that would take four to six weeks to heal, the incident
Curiously, police said Taphorn was adamant about
pressing charges when he first spoke to officers, but when police
followed up with Taphorn, he told them "that he may request the charges
be dropped," an investigator wrote in the supplemental report. He added:
"Taphorn did state that he had been contacted by legal staff and
coaches with UF and that they may be working on an agreement. However,
nothing is finalized."
"I advised him that if this was his final
decision that he would have to contact the State Attorney's office," the
Although police recommended a felony assault charge against Hernandez, a juvenile at the time, no charge was lodged.
reached by USA TODAY Sports by phone Tuesday, a man who said he was
Michael Taphorn said, "I think you have the wrong person," but a
database has a phone number for him that matches a contact number on the
police report. That number is no longer his, but the same report did
have his current phone number. Taphorn denied working at the restaurant.
asked to respond about the possibility that the school reached a
settlement with Taphorn, UF spokesman Steve McClain released the
"No one from the university's general counsel's office was involved in this manner,'' he said.
now 23, has been charged with the murder of Lloyd, a 27-year-old,
semipro football player. Hernandez, who has pleaded not guilty, is being
held without bail in a Massachusetts jail. Connecticut and
Massachusetts authorities said Tuesday that Hernandez also is being
investigated in connection with a July 2012 double homicide in Boston.
Contributing: Rachel Axon
Kevin Manahan, USA TODAY Sports