Former New England Patriots’ star Aaron Hernandez spoke candidly behind bars with his former teammates about professional football’s reliance on heavy-duty painkillers and extolled the benefits of marijuana for professional athletes. The conversations offer a rare opportunity to hear players talk openly about managing their pain and the physical grind of the game.
The participants in the calls were notified by the jail that their phone conversation was being recorded. The Globe obtained the audio of Hernandez’s jail phone calls through a public record request for the investigative series Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez & Football, Inc., which includes a six-part podcast produced in conjunction with Wondery.
Warning: The audio and transcripts below includes language that is racially offensive and obscene.
OCT. 7, 2014
Aaron Hernandez called his former teammate, Brandon Spikes, from jail on on Oct. 7, 2014. Hernandez and Spikes played together at the University of Florida, where Spikes was asked to mentor Hernandez. They were both selected by the New England Patriots in the 2010 NFL draft.
Hernandez: You play the Pats next week?
Spikes: Yeah, man, I broke my damn ribs last game.
Hernandez: You broke your ribs?
Spikes: Hell yeah, I broke my shit like the first series of the game -- second series of the game. I played with that shit, though. I broke two ribs.
Hernandez: You playing next week?
Spikes: Hell yeah, you know I don’t [inaudible] that shit. I got to play.
Hernandez: Oh, I was about to say, yo, hell yeah. Niggas be going sick in the Pats’ game, so you know I’m going to watch that whole shit.
Spikes: There’s some Pats fans in that mother fucker?
Hernandez: Everybody Pats fans in here.
Spikes: Right. I figure that shit. We got to beat their ass. But my shit, uh, hopefully my shit feels better. I’m going to just wrap it, wear a little flak jacket like the quarterbacks wear.
Hernandez: Yeah, yeah, yeah
Spikes: Take a little Toradol and go from there, man. Fuck.
Hernandez: Hell yeah. Tell them to get your Toradol shot and the pills. Because you can get a shot, a Toradol shot.
Spikes: They don’t give the shot no more, though. They don’t give them out no more. It’s illegal.
Hernandez: Oh, shit. Spikes: Yeah, you got to do the pills. You go to do the pills.
Hernandez: It was illegal last year, the year we played -- They made it illegal that year, but Bill still gave the shots.
Spikes: For real?
Hernandez: Yeah. Bill still would give them. It was illegal my last year playing. They made it illegal before the season, but that’s why it was limited, you had to have a real excuse, this and that. Yeah.
Spikes: That shit’s crazy, man, because they are strict with that shit [inaudible] They’re strict. with that shit. They’re strict. Hold on….
Spikes: Yeah, they’re strict as hell with that shit, man. They probably get you Percs and Vicodin and shit. You’ve got to find a [inaudible] and shit to get a Vicodin. I’m like, ‘Are you’all fucking serious?’
Spikes: Like the don’t pass shit out -- you know how they used to pass them out on planes and shit?
Spikes: They don’t do none of that shit no more. Like you got to just get Tylenol and wait till you see a doctor. Then he got to sign off on the shit. Then after he asks, you like Vicodin, Percocet.
Hernandez: Nah, I think it’s just that program. There’s no way. Because the Pats -- them motherfuckers give you everything when we was there.
Spikes: I know. I know. I remember that shit, but they was like, ‘since the new rules.’ But I’m like, we was there when [inaudible]
JULY 25, 2014
Aaron Hernandez called his former college teammate, Mike Pouncey, from jail on on July 25, 2014. Hernandez and Pouncey played together at the University of Florida and remained close friends in the NFL. At the time of this conversation, Pouncey was a Pro Bowl offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins.
Hernandez: You know what’s crazy, though? That’s what they were talking about on there. they were like, someone – weed is legal and they’re punishing dudes for a whole year, but if someone beats their motherfucking girl, a domestic charge that isn’t legal anywhere, they get less than a dude who just smokes a blunt, you know what I’m saying? So the media’s out there on our side.
Pouncey: Yeah, that shit crazy.
Hernandez: For real. That shit is crazy yo. Like niggas can’t go out there drunk and ball out. You could if you’re that talented, but you know what I’m saying it affects your body, you won’t cramp up everything, you know what I’m saying. You smoke a blunt before you play it ain’t nothing, you know that I mean?
Pouncey: Yeah, bro. Feels good. I just want them to -- they just need to legalize the shit, honestly.
Hernandez: They do it in places but you still can’t when you’re in the League, I heard. Like, niggas in Denver wanted to smoke cuz it’s legal out there but they can’t because of the League and shit.
Pouncey: They just need to just like keep it off the drug test, you know what I’m saying?
Hernandez: Word, word man. Hell yeah.
Pouncey: Commissioner say he’s going to look into it, because you know how he wants guys to stop taking like pain pills and shit, so they’re going to do more studies on it to see. He was like if it helps the players he’s all for it, but they got to a lot of research on that shit, so.
Hernandez: Hell yeah. For real. Weed and porno -- that’s all you need, baby!
Pouncey: I’m telling you, bro. They canceled all the Toradol. They don’t even want to give me my Toradol shots any more.
Hernandez: I know, but Pats -- they motherfuckin give that shit for the players. You know what I mean by players, like you, you know what I’m saying. If players want it, man they’re getting that.
Pouncey: Oh yeah, for sure, we did that last year.
Hernandez: Yeah, it don’t fucking matter. You need that bitch for practice. Bill, like coach, I’m saying, I’m hurting. What’s crazy about Bill, he’s like Meyer, yo. Like, if you’re a baller, say you come in on Wednesday -- early in the week, the Tuesday or Wednesday practice -- and you’re like coach, I need a rest today. My body is hurting. And you know how -- I learned from you’all, obviously -- yougo all out 150 percent every single practice. So like --
Pouncey: Hell yeah
Hernandez: So they know you know your shit. They’ll be like, ‘alright, take the day off.’ Word. You just got to go up to them and be like, yo I need this day. My legs are hurting me. They’ll be like, take that day off. Just make sure you’re out there. That’s it. Word