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League may use police experts to check player tattoos

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is arraigned in court in Attleborough, Massachusetts

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is arraigned on charges of murder and weapons violations in Attleborough, Massachusetts, after being arrested, June 26, 2013. Hernandez, a 23-year-old rising football star with the New England Patriots, was arrested by police in a murder investigation and fired by the team on Wednesday, another blot on the National Football League’s tightly protected image. REUTERS/Mike George/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT FOOTBALL)


In the wake of the Aaron Hernandez arrest, some eyebrows were raised at the news that authorities were scanning his vast array of tattoos for evidence of gang connections. As it turns out, it’s standard practice when potentially putting inmates with rival gang ties in the same jail space.

Eyebrows are now being raised at the possibility the league will do the same thing.

According to Bruce Feldman of, teams may now use police experts to check the tattoos of incoming prospects for evidence of gang connections. The examinations presumably would occur at the Scouting Combine, where new players are repeatedly poked and prodded and eyeballed.

Actually, it’s surprising that it doesn’t already happen. Five years ago, the NFL hired experts to study on-field celebrations in order to determine whether players were displaying gang signs. If the league is concerned about gang connections, looking at the evidence in plain sight on players arms, torso, and elsewhere would make plenty of sense.