FOXBORO — Aaron Hernandez — even though he’s just entering his second season in the NFL — knew full well that the first question he was going to get asked Saturday wasn’t about the health of his hip or what he’s doing to avoid a sophomore jinx.
As Hernandez came off the field it was about a particular uniform number he wore in 2010 and won’t be in 2011.
The No. 85 now belongs to Chad Ochocinco, and Hernandez did not even hold Ocho over a barrel for it. But he joked that perhaps he had a little remorse after handing it over just to be a good teammate.
“I don’t know, we’re playing at a high level, so all of us have a decent amount of money, but I definitely should have, but I didn’t and it was just a welcome to the team,” Hernandez said. “I’m glad to have him. Hopefully we can get some big things out of him this year, like everybody else. And I thought he may look better and play better in 85 since that’s his last name, so why not give it to him.
“As soon as he came in, I saw him smiling. I knew he was going to talk to me about the number. I already knew as soon as they took him that there was a chance he would to want the number. I obviously could have been like, ‘No, I don’t want to give it up,’ but I’m not that type of person. There was 81, the jersey I wanted when I came here, but [Randy] Moss had it so it actually worked out perfectly.”
Told that Ocho was willing to let him drive his Prius for the number, Hernandez seemed — well — underwhelmed.
“Maybe the Lambo,” referring to Ocho’s famous matte black Lamborghini.
So, Hernandez gets a new number, the No. 81, which belonged to Randy Moss at this time last year. Jeremy Ross had it at the start of camp this year but that lasted all of two days.
“No, I wasn’t giving up 85 unless I could get a decent number,” Hernandez said.
As for the important stuff, Hernandez said that his hip, injured last December against Green Bay, has healed nicely from surgery in February and is ready for the NFL rigors.
“I’m doing good,” Hernandez said, adding that the coaching staff was sure to take it slow in the first couple of days to make sure he was ready. “I feel good. I feel ready to play. Just taking it slow. Making sure I’m healthy because of the lockout. They weren’t keeping an eye on me, so they didn’t really know where I was at. But I feel good, I’m ready to go.
Hernandez believes there will be no long-term effects of the hip injury. In other words, he’s ready to go full speed.
“Yeah, I’m not a doctor but I hope so,” he said.