Robert Kraft on Aaron Hernandez: ‘If this stuff is true, I’ve been duped’
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?