On Monday, Robert Kraft broke the silence on behalf of the New England Patriots and finally addressed the murder charge of former tight end Aaron Hernandez. In speaking to reporters about how shocked he has been by the details surrounding the case, Kraft referred to a letter Hernandez sent the organization before they drafted him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
As most of you know, there were concerns about Hernandez’s past use of recreational drugs when he was coming out of college. Rumors swirled that he had failed multiple tests for marijuana while at Florida, and Hernandez knew it was hurting his draft stock. Knowing that New England was one of the teams that was interested in him, he wrote a letter to Patriots personnel executive Nick Caserio.
The letter is quite interesting for those of you who are interested in getting inside the mind of someone who could be a murderer. The full text is posted below, courtesy of Boston.com’s Ben Volin:
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft publicly acknowledged the arrest and murder charge of Aaron Hernandez on Monday. He admitted that the Patriots made a “mistake” in drafting Hernandez but insisted the organization had no idea they could eventually face this type of situation.
“If this stuff is true, then I’ve been duped and our whole organization has been duped,” Kraft told reporters, via ESPNBoston.com. “You can be sure we’ll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things.”
Kraft also referred to Hernandez as a “most likable young man” who was always respectful when he was at the Patriots’ facility or dealing with any members of the organization.
“When he was in our building, we never saw anything where he was not polite,” Kraft said. “He was always respectful to me. We only know what’s going on inside the building. We don’t put private eyes on people.”
Kraft also admitted that signing Hernandez to such a lucrative contract was not the right decision. He also confirmed that the Patriots had decided they were going to cut him if he was arrested before they knew about the murder charge and said that Hernandez, who donated $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund upon signing his extension, knew how to manipulate him.
“He spoke to me about wanting to be a role model in the Hispanic community,” Kraft explained. “… I believed him. … He knew how to push my buttons.”
[Related: Aaron Hernandez reportedly had gang ties]
The longtime Patriots owner also extended his condolences to Odin Lloyd’s family.
“My heart goes out to the Lloyd family,” he said. “I feel bad that someone connected to our organization is connected to this.”
As for the problems the team saw with Hernandez before drafting him, Kraft said the Patriots were only aware of concerns surrounding failed drug tests but that the former Florida Gator sent the team a letter (full text here) assuring them he would submit to any drug test at any time and reimburse the team if he failed, even if it went against the CBA. Did the Patriots know drafting Hernandez could one day lead to trouble? Of course. Did they consider the possibility of a murder charge? Probably not. Who would?
Aaron Hernandez has not yet been convicted of any crime, but that hasn’t stopped endorsers and other companies from cutting ties with him. The latest to scrub Hernandez from existence is video game juggernaut EA Sports.
On Monday, an EA Sports spokesperson told CBSSports.com that the former New England Patriots tight end is being removed from NCAA Football 14 and will not be featured in Madden NFL 25, the latest edition of the popular NFL video game series. The news came after the following photo began making the rounds on Twitter (via @LiterallyLowe), which shows Hernandez being unlocked as a reward in NCAA Football 14:
“We made a decision to remove Aaron Hernandez from Madden NFL 25 and NCAA Football 14,” the spokesperson said. “Because NCAA Football 14 was finalized prior to our decision, Hernandez’ image still appears in the Nike Skills Trainer. However, he is not in the game, and anyone who unlocks that particular Nike Skills Trainer reward will receive an Alex Smith Ultimate Team player item instead. The image of Hernandez will be removed via a Title Update in the near future.”
Alex Smith instead of Hernandez? Ouch. Well, I guess that wouldn’t be so bad if we’re talking college.
Hernandez being dropped from video games is just the latest example showing how his image continues to crumble. First his jerseys were removed from online Pro shops, then sponsors dropped him, then the Patriots offered a free jersey exchange, and now EA Sports. Does that mean games that still feature Hernandez have become the latest eBay collector’s item? Based on what we saw last week, that wouldn’t be a surprise.
There are very few people who feel sorry for Aaron Hernandez as evidence continues to pile up against the former New England Patriots tight end. The American Civil Liberties Union is apparently an exception.
Hernandez has been kept in solitary confinement at the Bristol County House of Corrections since he was arrested over a week ago. He is kept in his cell for 20 hours a day and has his meals brought to him. Last week, the ACLU wrote a blog post likening Hernandez’s situation in jail to “torture,” noting that our legal system is based upon the concept of innocent until proven guilty.
Extreme isolation can have debilitating psychological effects. Prisoners locked alone in solitary confinement may become depressed or begin hallucinating. Psychologists have said that the effects of prolonged solitary confinement can be irreversible, and an emerging international community has begun to recognize solitary confinement as a form of torture.
Sadly, what’s happening to Hernandez is not a rarity in our criminal justice system. There are more than 80,000 prisoners in solitary confinement across the country. They remain isolated for weeks and sometimes years on end, often without the press attention Hernandez’s case has gotten.
Hernandez has been described as a “model inmate” and denied being affiliated with any gangs, but the sheriff has decided to keep him in isolation because of the high profile nature of the case. The ACLU argues that protective custody “drastically diminishes the chances for rehabilitation.”
If the evidence against Hernandez in the Odin Lloyd murder case wasn’t so compelling (and he wasn’t being investigated for a possible role in other shootings), people might feel more sympathy toward the 23-year-old. But as of now, it’s difficult for the public to view his situation as a black and white case of innocent until proven guilty.
H/T FOX 25 Boston
The New England Patriots did their fans a solid by offering them an opportunity to exchange their Aaron Hernandez jerseys for another Patriots player’s jersey this weekend. The program was announced last week, and it is a two-day program available to fans on Saturday and Sunday. It has been popular thus far.
The Patriots said on Twitter Saturday evening that nearly 1,200 Hernandez jerseys were exchanged. They said Vince Wilfork, Tom Brady, Chandler Jones and Stevan Ridley were the most popular jerseys fans chose in the exchange.
While the Patriots are doing their part to take Hernandez jerseys out of circulation, the merchandise has become a collector’s item elsewhere. Jerseys have been selling for hundreds on bidding sites like eBay.
Between this gesture and releasing Hernandez before they even knew about the murder charge, the Patriots have acted commendably during such a difficult situation.
Below are several photos showing all the fans who showed up for the exchange:
The New England Patriots, Muscle Milk, and other powerful brands may be trying to distance themselves from Aaron Hernandez, but that does not mean the 23-year-old has no endorsers left. On Thursday, Snoop Dogg posted a photo of himself and Hernandez on Instagram and had a message for the former Patriots tight end.
“Keep ya head up!!” Snoop wrote. “We prayn 4 ya.”
As Deadspin pointed out, Snoop recycled the photo from four months ago when he and Hernandez were apparently hanging out together at a club. Hernandez’s wallet may have gotten thinner, but it looks like he has been able to retain at least one of his most high-profile fans.
See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder
Aaron Hernandez is currently in jail awaiting trial for the murder of Odin Lloyd, but that may not be the only serious charge he faces when all is said and done. Investigators are reportedly looking into Hernandez’s possible involvement in a double murder that took place in 2012 in Boston. In addition, there has also been speculation that he was involved in a shooting in Gainesville back in 2007 and another incident during college when he allegedly ruptured a bouncer’s ear drum.
Hernandez never got into any serious trouble with the law while at Florida. It’s possible his name is being unfairly thrown into the mix with past incidents of fighting and gunfire, but there is a growing belief that Urban Meyer and the Gators protected Hernandez. As Bob Hunter of The Columbus Dispatch pointed out, Meyer’s wife and daughter seemingly defended him earlier this week.
When will we start holding individuals accountable for their own decisions/actions and stop blaming any/everyone else? #liveyourliferight
— Shelley meyer (@spinnershells) July 3, 2013
— Gigi Meyer (@GG_40) July 3, 2013
When Hernandez allegedly punched the bouncer and broke his ear drum in 2007, one report says Gainesville police recommended a felony charge. Instead, Florida reached a settlement with the victim and it all went away. His name was also included in the incident report from the 2007 shooting in Gainesville, but nothing ever came of that.
Athletes at schools with elite sports programs receive special treatment all the time. Hernandez was no different, but many feel Florida crossed the line in protecting him and helped create a monster. We’ll never really know if that was the case.
H/T Wesley Lowery