Why did Aaron Hernandez write ‘John 3:16’ on his forehead before killing himself?

The former player’s lawyer has questioned whether Hernandez actually killed himself. The makeshift John 3:16 tattoo Hernandez apparently drew on his forehead was far from the only reflection of faith on his body. It appeared on a player’s eye black in a rejected 2011 Super Bowl ad by a Christian organization called the Fixed Point Foundation. Hernandez was a convicted murderer, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, and one who had led what many would deem an irreligious life — brawling and using illegal drugs. Hernandez was acquitted of those slayings five days before he was found dead. “There’s Jesus’ hands on the cross, and that’s about the pain we all go through,” he explained to writer Kelly Whiteside, pointing to his left arm. But prosecutors called it a confession in a 2012 double murder case, in which Hernandez was charged with fatally shooting two men in Boston in 2012. The football star called his relationship with his father, who died of a medical complication when Aaron was 16, particularly close. An angel tattoo is on his right wrist. Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez writes a note during his murder trial at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Mass., on Feb. A Bible in the cell lay open to the same verse. It was emblazoned on the T-shirts worn and signs waved by Rollen Stewart, the “Rainbow Man,” who captured attention at sports event in the 1970s and 1980s and was later imprisoned for threatening behavior. It was written in former star quarterback Tim Tebow’s eye black, the grease or strip applied under the eyes to reduce glare, at a 2009 Bowl Championship Series game, leading the NCAA to ban the practice. Hernandez’s death may result in the vacating of his murder conviction, which he had been appealing, according to The Boston Globe. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” the New Testament verse reads. Many news accounts report that Hernandez and Meyer regularly studied the Bible together and that Meyer assigned Tebow — then a Florida Gator who would soon become the most outwardly devout Christian to play in the NFL — to keep an eye on Hernandez. In a 2009 USA Today story about his tattoos, Hernandez pointed out representations of God’s hands at his shoulder, and angels near his wrists. Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk and theologian who sparked the Protestant Reformation, reportedly called John 3:16 “the gospel in miniature.”

Aaron Hernandez displays his tattoos in a 2010 photo shoot. Friends and family said Hernandez had craved a father figure ever since. (RNS) It wasn’t a suicide note that former NFL star Aaron Hernandez left in his prison cell when he reportedly hanged himself. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Aaron Frutman
More recently, the verse has been linked with football. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Brian Snyder
A tattoo on his right arm, of a gun next to the phrase “God Forgives,” may be a testament to his belief in God’s mercy. Other tattoos on his torso honor his father, Dennis Hernandez, with his favorite sayings and symbols of joy. John 3:16 is one of the most widely quoted verses in the New Testament and is frequently invoked before death. The verse is carved into many a Christian’s gravestone, perhaps because it seems to sum up the Christian faith as well as any sentence in the Bible: Believe in Jesus, and you will enjoy everlasting life. He found one in Urban Meyer, former head football coach at the University of Florida, where Hernandez played starting in 2007. But at times in his life, Hernandez also seemed to try to ground himself in religion — perhaps to ease a guilty conscience or to help keep his career on track, some have suggested: He signed a $40 million contract with the New England Patriots in 2012. Or perhaps Hernandez was a genuine believer. Perhaps all three. 4, 2015. In 2013 a jury convicted him of killing semipro football player Odin Lloyd. Instead, the Massachusetts corrections officers who discovered his body Wednesday morning (April 19) saw “John 3:16” written across Hernandez’s forehead in red ink. Hernandez seemed to want to send a message. The Connecticut-raised football star, son of an Italian mother and Puerto Rican father, was covered in ink.