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Bill Belichick on Aaron Hernandez: ‘I’m responsible for players we bring in’

Bill-Belichick-Aaron-HernandezBill Belichick spoke to the media on Tuesday for the first time since former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. While most of his press conference was vintage Belichick, he showed more compassion and regret than many people expected him to.

Belichick began the news conference by expressing his condolences to the Lloyd family and calling the murder a “tragedy.”

“This is a sad day on so many levels,” Belichick said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim.”

Belichick mentioned Hernandez by name at the very beginning of his lengthy opening statement, but only referred to him as “the player” from that point on. He stated that he agreed “100%” with the comments Patriots owner Robert Kraft made about the situation earlier this offseason, and then surprised some by taking responsibility for the fact that Hernandez did not work out.

“We’ll learn from this terrible experience,” Belichick said. “This does not in any way represent the way the New England Patriots want to do things. As coach, I’m primarily responsible for people we bring into this organization. Personally, I’m challenged by decisions that affect the team on a daily basis. We always try to do what’s best for the team. We’ll continue to do this and will work to do a better job going forward.”

[Related: Tom Brady gives first comments since Aaron Hernandez arrest]

After his opening statement, Belichick was very vague and answered very few questions. He said he has been advised to not speak about individuals who are involved in an ongoing investigation, but did give some insight when asked if the Patriots have looked into the claim that other football players visited Hernandez’s so-called “flop house.” He said the team has “absolutely done as much as we can” to gather information on that front.

Overall, I thought Belichick handled the situation well. He put his typical arrogance aside and delivered an adequate opening statement. While saying he has been advised to not speak about individuals who are involved in an ongoing investigation will be seen as a copout, it’s smart. Regardless of how compelling the evidence is against Hernandez, his trial has yet to even begin. Saying too much could get the team into trouble.

See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder

Report: Prosecutors want Aaron Hernandez charged for 2012 murders

Aaron HernandezA grand jury in Suffolk, Mass., is convening regarding an unsolved double murder from last July, and prosecutors are making the case that Aaron Hernandez should be charged in the murders, according to The Boston Globe.

After Hernandez was charged in the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd last month, information concerning the former tight end’s troubled past emerged. Speculation began that Hernandez may have been connected to a drive-by shooting in the South End of Boston last July that left two men dead. Witnesses said the car driven by the perpetrators was a gray or silver SUV with Rhode Island plates. Reports later indicated that the car was rented in Hernandez’s name.

The Globe says prosecutors are not in a hurry to charge Hernandez for the deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu because the tight end is already being held in jail without bail. A motive for the murder has not been established. Furtado and Abreu worked together for a cleaning company, and their relatives say the men did not know Hernandez.

The Suffolk grand jury will hear evidence from the Suffolk County prosecutors and witnesses subpoenaed to testify. The grand jury needs to determine whether there is enough evidence to indict the defendant. A majority vote is required for indictment.

[Related: Aaron Hernandez investigated for 2007 Florida shooting]

If Hernandez is indicted, that means he could be facing murder charges in multiple cases at the same time. And if he is guilty, that means it is possible he played all last season for the New England Patriots after being part of a double murder.

See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder case

Tom Brady on Aaron Hernandez: ‘I have moved on’

Tom-Brady-PatriotsNew England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his first public comments about the Aaron Hernandez situation this week. As you might expect, the two-time Super Bowl MVP was very vague.

During an interview with Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Brady stopped short of directly addressing the Hernandez murder charge when asked about it. He did, however, say he has left it in the past.

“I’ve seen a lot of things over 13 years, and what I have learned is that mental toughness and putting aside personal agendas for what’s in the best interest of the team matters most,” Brady said. “My job is to play quarterback, and I’m going to do that the best way I know how, because I owe that to my teammates regardless of who is out there on the field with me.

“I have moved on. I’m focusing on the great teammates I have who are committed to helping us win games. The only thing I care about is winning. Nothing is going to ever get in the way of that goal. I’m just excited to report to camp and see what we can accomplish as a team. The fate of our season will be determined by the players in our locker room—nothing else.”

[Related: Tom Brady told Tim Tebow Aaron Hernandez is 'a lot to handle']

Those who have followed the Patriots and Brady’s career should not have expected him to say any more than that. Hernandez was one of the best players New England had in 2012, but he’s no longer a member of the team. Bill Belichick, who will say essentially the same thing as Brady during his press conference on Wednesday, has always made sure to keep the focus on the players currently on his roster.

In non-Hernandez news, Brady told King he feels like he can continue to play in the NFL beyond the age of 40.

“The way I feel now, it’s beyond 40,” he said. “I have a lot of goals, and I am in this for the long haul. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. Whether the team wants me, or whether something [like an injury] happens tomorrow to stop me from playing, that remains to be seen. But my training, my nutrition, the bodywork I do—I can’t see not playing at any time in the near future. There’s nothing I love to do more.”

Players come and go within every football organization. It’s not often that one of them leaves because of a murder charge, but the concept for the Patriots remains the same. Hernandez was a luxury last season when healthy. He has nothing to do with the Patriots’ on-field product in 2013.

Aaron Hernandez’s mother was stabbed by his stepfather after Patriots drafted him

Aaron HernandezAaron Hernandez has a very troubled past that many people consider to be disturbing. We may not know the half of it.

What we already know is that Hernandez’s father died when he suffered a fatal infection following a routine hernia surgery when Aaron was 16 years old. His mother, Terri Hernandez, told USA Today Sports in 2009 that Hernandez was “very angry” after losing his father and would “rebel” against her. She said that by 2009 he had become “my Aaron again,” but another traumatic event that took place the following year may have caused some of that anger to return.

In June of 2010 — less than a month after Hernandez signed his first contract with the New England Patriots — Terri Hernandez was stabbed by Jeffrey Cummings, the man she married three years after the death of Hernandez’s father. According to The Daily Beast, Bristol police responded to a 911 call to find Hernandez’s mother bleeding and trembling.

Cummings, who was an ex-con with a criminal record that included assault on a police officer and 19 failed drugs tests for marijuana and cocaine between September 2009 and June 2010, allegedly assaulted and slashed Terri during a verbal argument. Hernandez’s mother said the altercation became physical when Cummings shoved her to the ground and she scraped her knee.

“Terri stated that she got up and asked him, ‘What did I do? Why did you do that?’” a police report obtained by The Daily Beast read. “She stated she was surprised. She walked into the living room and sat on the chair crying because she was upset.”

Terri Hernandez said she then walked into the kitchen when Cummings approached her with a large kitchen knife and put it to her throat. The report stated that she was “scared for her life” and that Cummings then began stabbing a stand-up fan with the knife. He then approached her with the 8-inch blade.

“He came back over to Terri with the knife and started to jab the knife into the chair she was sitting on,” the officer’s report stated. “Terri told me that at that time she started to bleed from her face. While he was hitting objects with the knife, he was saying something to the effect of ‘I don’t care if I go back to prison.”

Terri had fled to a neighbor’s house where police found her with a 3 1/2-inch wound on her face and wounds on her left wrist and right shoulder. Cummings was convicted of assault and sentenced to two years in prison on October 15, 2010. Terri divorced him in December 2010 while he was being held in a correctional facility.

Any anger Hernandez had learned to cope with after losing his father may have returned after his mother was attacked by his stepfather. Police reportedly believe Hernandez killed Odin Lloyd over trust issues, which is a motive that would make even more sense after learning that his mother was slashed by her husband. Hernandez losing his father and hanging out with the wrong crowd clearly only scratches the surface of the drama that has gone on in his life outside of football.

[Related: All LBS stories about the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation]

H/T Wesley Lowery

Investigators search highway in connection with Aaron Hernandez murder case

Aaron HernandezOn Wednesday morning, authorities searched an area along Route 95 south in Dedham, Mass. for the second straight day in connection with the Aaron Hernandez murder investigation. According to FOX 25 in Boston, Mass. State Police troopers and seven investigators scoured a specific area along the shoulder of the highway and grass closest to the far left travel lane.

FOX 25′s source reportedly confirmed that the search was related to the Hernandez case, though it was unclear if anything was found. Police believe Hernandez traveled the route on his way back to his home in North Attleboro the night Odin Lloyd was murdered. Authorities have speculated that a side mirror came off Hernandez’s rental car at some point during that journey.

Earlier this month, the district attorney in Hernandez’s case asked the public for help in locating the missing side mirror. More than two weeks have passed since the public’s help was sought, and it appears the mirror is still missing.

[Related: Silver SUV linked to 2012 shooting found at  Hernandez's uncle's house]

A source also reportedly told FOX 25 that detectives could be looking for ballistic evidence like shell casings and ammunition that would help determine if a gun was fired from the rental car as it traveled down the highway.

It should also be noted that investigators have given no indication at this point that the murder weapon has been found. There has been ammunition and other evidence seized in connection with the Lloyd murder, but the specific gun that was used to shoot him is allegedly still missing.

See all the LBS coverage of the Aaron Hernandez murder case

Rob Gronkowski almost walks out on interview over Aaron Hernandez questions (Video)

Rob-Gronkowski-interviewRob Gronkowski and his family sat down for an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday, and the segment was filled with laughter and stories about Rob’s brothers beating up on him when they were growing up. In addition, there were questions about Aaron Hernandez. Those seemed to irritate the New England Patriots tight end.

CBS’ Don Dahler would not have been doing his job if he didn’t ask about Hernandez, as it has been by far the biggest news story in the NFL over the past several weeks. But Gronk refused to bite.

“Next question,” he said when asked about his former teammate. “I learned that from Drew Rosenhaus. Next question.”

Gronk’s brothers laughed, and Dahler then turned his attention to Rob’s father Gordon to see if he had any thoughts on the murder investigation.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” Gord said.

At that point, Gronk stood up like he was getting ready to leave the interview. It’s hard to tell if he was joking or not, but he sat back down when Dahler wisely changed the subject.

This is how it’s going to be for a while for the Patriots and those who have any connection to the organization. Reporters aren’t going to stop asking, but the players aren’t going to start answering. We saw how uncomfortable Gronk was when asked about Hernandez and teammate Alfonzo Dennard last week. His interview with Dahler was probably just another sign of what’s to come.

H/T WBZ Boston News

Tom Brady told Tim Tebow Aaron Hernandez is ‘a lot to handle’ in 2011

Tom-Brady-Tim-Tebow-handshakeWhen the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos faced each other toward the end of the 2011 season, reporters couldn’t wait to capture the postgame handshake between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow. Brady and Tebow are two of the most popular players in football, and Tebow had been defying the odds at that point by leading the Broncos on a playoff run.

The Patriots defeated Denver 41-23, and the two quarterbacks were very friendly with one another after the game. Brady told Tebow that he’s having a great year and that “good things happen to good people,” but they also touched on the subject of Aaron Hernandez.

Perhaps it was nothing, but Masshole Sports called our attention to the ironic dialogue NFL Network’s Sound FX segment captured at around the 1:30 mark of this video.

“I’m trying to watch over Aaron (Hernandez) and Brandon (Spikes) but…,” Brady said to Tebow before the two went their separate ways.

“They’re good guys, man,” Tebow replied.

“They’re a lot to handle,” Brady said.

Did Brady envision Hernandez would one day get himself mixed up with a murder investigation? Of course not. Could he simply have been joking with Tebow about two of his former Florida teammates? That’s probably all there was to it, but the current circumstances make the comment mean a bit more.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently said Hernandez was nothing but respectful and that he fooled everyone in the organization. Does the fact that he was “a lot to handle” mean Brady was less fooled than Kraft? Nah, it’s probably just a coincidence.

H/T Twitter/Wesley Lowery