A new book authored by defense attorney Jose Baez alleges former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sold his jersey number to Chad Ochocinco in 2011 to finance a drug deal.
According to Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel, Baez wrote in Unnecessary Roughness: Inside the Trial and Final Days of Aaron Hernandez that his former client sold the No. 85 jersey to Ochocinco for $50,000 so he could complete a wholesale drug purchase that ultimately netted him a $70,000 profit.
"Aaron figured Ocho Cinco [sic] might want to wear number 85 with the Patriots so he approached Ocho Cinco [sic] and offered to sell him the number for $75,000," Baez wrote, per Wetzel. "Mr. Cinco balked at the price and countered with $50,000. Aaron accepted, gave him the number, and went back to the number 81 he had in college. Aaron took the money and floated it to his cousin's husband, T.L. Singleton, who gave Aaron back $120,000."
Hernandez, who wore No. 85 as a rookie in 2010, donned No. 81 over his final two seasons in 2011 and 2012.
At the time of the swap, Hernandez told reporters he gave the number up free of charge.
"We're playing at a high level, so all of us have a decent amount of money. I definitely should have [asked for compensation], but I didn't," Hernandez said. "It was just a welcome to the team. ... I thought he may look better and play better in 85, because that's his last name. So why not give it to him?"
Ochocinco corroborated that account.
"Nothing [exchanged]," he said. "It was Mr. Hernandez's way of greeting me here. He gave me the number, I didn't have to pay anything.
"I just shook his hand and said, 'Thank you.' I was probably going to give Mr. Hernandez—I drive a Toyota Prius—so I was going to let him use the Prius on the weekend. That's the best I can do right now, and I have some leftover McDonald's coupons."
In 2015, Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2013 murder of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.
Two years later, Hernandez died by suicide in his prison cell.