- (Photo: Reuters/Mike George)
Puma has retracted its two-year endorsement deal with former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez.
The sports apparel brand has become one of a handful of companies who have discontinued merchandise that advertises the player's name. Puma released a statement on Thursday announcing that the company had cut ties with Hernandez.
"Puma has ended the relationship with athlete Aaron Hernandez in light of the current situation," the company said in a one-line statement on Thursday.
Hernandez had signed a two-year endorsement contract to promote the company's athletic line in April
"We decided it was the appropriate step to take," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an e-mail to USA Today Sports.
Following his arrest on Wednesday, the NFL site also removed merchandise carry Hernandez's name, including a jersey that had previously sold for $99.99.
"The merchandise will no longer be available due to the current circumstances," said Meier Raivich, a spokesperson for Fanatics Inc., an online retailer that works with the NFL.
Cytosport, which also held an endorsement with the player, dropped their contract last week after his name was linked to the case.
Hernandez was charged with first-degree murder on Wednesday. He pled not guilty to charges of murder and five additional firearms charges. Police arrested a second man in the case, Carlos Ortiz, also 27, on Thursday. Allegations against Ortiz were not released. New Britain State's Attorney Brian Preleski says Ortiz was charged as a fugitive from justice and has waived extradition to Massachusetts.
Police believe Lloyd was killed following a dispute that had occurred between him and Hernandez while at a Boston nightclub a few days before Lloyd's body was discovered. Lloyd's girlfriend was the sister to Hernandez's fiancé. Links to Hernandez were made after police discovered keys to rental car in the victim's pocket. The car had been rented out under Hernandez's name.