Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has apologized for an incident where he and his brother, Miami Dolphins center Mike, were photographed wearing "Free Hernandez" hats at a co-birthday party Saturday night.
Pouncey, an All-Pro and Pro Bowler in each of his three NFL seasons, tweeted out an apology for his choice of message, although he chose not to mention Aaron Hernandez, with whom the brothers played at Florida, by name:
I fully recognize the seriousness of the situation involving my former teammate, and I regret that my actions appear to make light of that serious situation. I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions.
Mike Pouncey has issued no statement about the hats. While Pouncey apologized for seeming to "making light" of the situation, he doesn't really have much to say about the controversial part of the hat -- that he's saying Aaron Hernandez, who very well may have killed a person, should be out of prison, choosing to avoid any statement about his ex-teammate's situation besides that its very serious. Or maybe implying Hernandez should be free is the joke Pouncey is apologizing for? Regardless, he's trying to be contrite after an unnecessarily awkward situation he put himself into.
Although Hernandez is obviously considered innocent until proven guilty by the justice system, the NFL has been quick to disassociate from Hernandez, with the Patriots offering a Hernandez jersey exchange, and the league stripping his player page from their website and removing a photo of him from the Hall of Fame.