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Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey took to Twitter on Monday to apologize for wearing a red ‘Free Hernandez’ hat alongside twin brother Mike Pouncey during their birthday bash at a Florida night club. The photo circulated around the Internet on Sunday.
The Pouncey brothers were teammates of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez at Florida. Hernandez is charged with the first-degree murder of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd on June 17.
“I fully recognize the seriousness of the situation involving my former teammate,” Pouncey wrote. “And I regret that my actions appear to make light of that serious situation. I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions.”
Mike Pouncey, a center for the Dolphins, has yet to apologize for wearing a black ‘Free Hernandez’ hat in the photograph.
The Pouncey brothers were linked to Hernandez in a recent ESPN report about a 2007 shooting at a Florida nightclub. A police report confirmed the twins were with Hernandez at The Venue on the night a shooting left two men wounded.
The Pounceys were celebrating their soon-to-be 24th birthday Saturday at Club Cameo in Miami hosted by Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, a Delray Beach, Fla., native. A poster of the event promoted fellow NFL players Jamaal Charles, Brandon Albert, Rahim Moore, Pierre Garcon, Matt Elam and others expected to be in attendance.
The brothers’ birthday is two days before the Steelers report to training camp July 26.
Hernandez, who also faces five weapon charges, is being held in a Massachusetts jail. He was denied bail and has pled not guilty to all charges.
A Steelers spokesman had no comment on the photograph.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib