Aaron Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez can't watch the Patriots' quest to reach the Super Bowl. Reuters

A year ago, Aaron Hernandez played in the AFC Championship Game. On Sunday, the Patriots will be back in the contest, but this time, Hernandez will be thousands of miles away in a jail cell.

The former NFL star has been in prison since late June after being charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. He’s currently being held at the Bristol County House of Correction, where he hasn’t even been able to watch his former team make a run towards the Super Bowl. Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson has told the Boston Herald that Hernandez is not allowed to watch TV.

Hernandez spends all of his time in prison by himself. Because of his celebrity status, the ex-football player doesn’t interact with the rest of the population. Hodgson tells the Herald that Hernandez is alone in his cell for 21 hours each day. In three one-hour intervals, Hernandez is placed in an outdoor pen. The area is only 12-feet by eight-feet, though it’s enough room for him to do some exercise.

“There’s no equipment,” said Hodgson. “It’s basically just a pen. He can do pushups, situps.”

Hernandez is treated differently than the other inmates. His level of notoriety prevents him from interacting with other prisoners, and he lives in a special-management unit. The other prisoners are permitted to watch two hours of entertainment television each day. Hernandez, however, gets no such privilege.

“It’s jail,” Hodgson said. “It’s all about standards and sending a message.”

When Hernandez was initially jailed in the summer, there had been some concern from outside groups that he would not be treated fairly. A blog post on the ACLU’s website from July detailed it’s worries about Hernandez’s stay in prison.

"Regardless of what you think of Aaron Hernandez, it's important to take a minute and remember he has not yet been convicted — in the eyes of the law, he is still innocent until proven guilty," read the post on ACLU.org. "But, while awaiting trial, he has been locked alone in a small room with little or no human interaction for over 20 hours a day."

Hodgson told the Boston Globe that Hernandez is treated differently for his own safety. He claimed that Hernandez could be the target of violent attacks by inmates who are trying to “raise their stature.”

On Sunday, Hernandez won’t be able to see his former teammates take on the Denver Broncos. The other prisoners were allowed to watch the second-round matchup between the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts for one hour.