by Fitzgerald Cecilio
Nearly 1,200 jerseys of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez were traded in by fans for those of other players in the first of a two-day event at the Gillette Stadium pro shop.
Over 500 Hernandez jerseys were turned in by 11 a.m., about 90 minutes after the pro shop opened. The shop closed at 5 p.m.
The Patriots encouraged parents to exchange their children's jerseys, and about 20 percent of those turned in were youth sizes.
Fans lined up hours before the event began, with Patriots staff checking the authenticity of the Hernandez jerseys before they were placed in a large bin. The team will make an effort to recycle the jersey material, but will not donate the jerseys to a foreign country.
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork's jersey was picked off by fans at a rate of twice as much as any other jersey. It was followed by quarterback Tom Brady's and defensive end Chandler Jones'.
"People said you could sell (the Hernandez jersey) on eBay for more money. But I just feel like profiting from it personally is sort of a weird concept," said Zack Klein, 14, of Newton, Mass., exchanged his Hernandez jersey for one of defensive end Rob Ninkovich.
Within the past two weeks, an authentic Hernandez jersey has sold for as much as $400 on eBay, with autographed jerseys topping $1,200.
Hernandez was charged with the murder of 27-year old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd last month, and was released by the Patriots the same day.