FACT CHECK: Is Tim Tebow Wearing Number 85 To ‘Honor’ Aaron Hernandez?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Instagram claims NFL player Tim Tebow is wearing number 85 to “honor” his friend and former teammate Aaron Hernandez.


Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Tebow is wearing the number to “honor” Hernandez. The claim appears to stem from a Twitter account that has previously impersonated sports reporters.

Fact Check:

Tebow on May 20 signed as a tight end with the Jacksonville Jaguars after nearly six years out of the NFL, according to ESPN. A May 28 Instagram post claims Tebow will be wearing the number 85 to “honor” Hernandez, the late former New England Patriots tight end.

“Tim Tebow says he is wearing #85 to honor is (sic) former friend/teammate and fellow TE Aaron Hernandez, who passed away in 2017. Respect,” reads text included in the post. (RELATED: Did Tim Tebow Knell During The National Anthem To Protest Against Abortion?)

Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison for killing landscaper Odin Lloyd, according to the Associated Press. He later committed suicide in prison in 2017, CNN reported. Tebow and Hernandez played football together at the University of Florida and briefly with the Patriots, according to USA Today.

There is no record of Tebow saying he is wearing the number 85 to “honor” Hernandez. Check Your Fact searched his verified social media accounts, but found no evidence of such a statement. Nor did the statement appear on Tebow’s official website  Had Tebow actually said he was wearing the jersey number to honor Hernandez, media outlets likely would have reported on it, yet none have.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport tweeted on May 20 that Tebow would be wearing number 85, a typical number for NFL tight ends, according to Sporting News. Rapoport did not mention anything about Hernandez in his tweet, but did note that Tebow’s number may change.

The claim appears to originate from a May 20 tweet sent by a Twitter user that goes by the name Barry McCockiner. McCockiner has previously used his account to impersonate sports media figures in order to spread fake sports news stories, according to Fox Sports Radio.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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