On Friday, The MMQB published a round table-style conversation with three reporters who covered Aaron Hernandez during his high school, college or pro career. A day after Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell, the reporters were asked about the tight end’s personality and whether they saw any hint he would become (or already was) a murderer.

The whole conversation is pretty fascinating, but the most haunting nugget comes from NFL Network and NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport. Rapoport explains that he and Hernandez got along well and had each other’s phone numbers. But one day, Hernandez issued a threat that seemed light-hearted at the time but more serious in retrospect.

KAHLER: Looking back on the Hernandez you knew, is there anything that now jumps out at you as a red flag?

RAPOPORT: Yeah, there is one that I think about a lot. I would end up hanging around by his locker a lot. He would do his interviews and we would chat. There weren’t a lot of guys that were just hanging out in the locker room, especially during those years, so we would hang out and we would talk. When we first exchanged numbers, he called me over and said, “Hey I just want you to know, you’re my guy. If you need anything let me know, I will help you out if I can. But I just want you to know, if you f— me over, I’ll kill you.” I sort of laughed a little bit, and I said, “Don’t worry, I got you, I’ll take care of you.” It was me and this other reporter from CBS Sports, William Bendetson, and he was standing there and had listened and we kind of turned to each other and both laughed. And then the first text I got after it became clear that Hernandez was the suspect in the murder investigation was from William Bendetson, who was like, Hey remember that day in the locker room?

It seems clear Rapoport was never in any actual danger, but it still must be chilling to learn that the guy who joked about killing you over something petty was actually capable of killing you over something petty.

“If you fuck me over, I’ll kill you” might well be a common refrain from NFL players to reporters. But it sure seems eerie when coming from Aaron Hernandez.

[The MMQB]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com, the Hartford Courant, Baseball Prospectus, Land of 10 and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • PAI

    Love how Rapoport got the word ‘hang’ in there multiple times.