With all of the talk involving Aaron Hernandez, two voices have been conspicuously silent: owner Robert Kraft, and head coach, Bill Belichick. A couple days after returning from his vacation in Israel and Europe, Robert Kraft broke the silence according to the Boston Globe.
"No one in our organization was aware of any of these kind of connections. If it’s true, I’m just shocked," Kraft said in his office at Gillette Stadium. "Our whole organization has been duped."
Hernandez, a second round talent that fell to the Patriots in the fourth round due to concerns about off-field issues including drug use, seemed to have made a serious effort to turn things around. Before the draft, the Patriots received a letter from Hernandez, written with the help of his agents from Athletes First, where he admitted to his recreational drug use and offered to willing submit to biweekly drug tests his rookie year if the Patriots drafted him. In addition, he offered to make monetary atonement from his signing bonus for any failed test.
"In addition, I will tie any guaranteed portion of my 2010 compensation to these drug tests and reimburse the team a pro-rata amount for any failed drug test," Hernandez wrote. "My point is simple — if I fail a drug test, I do not deserve that portion of the money. I realize this offer is somewhat unorthodox, but it is also the only way I could think of to let you know how serious I am about reaching my potential in the NFL."
The Patriots were willing to draft Aaron Hernandez because they felt he had owned up to his past and was turning his life around.
"Here’s a guy writing a letter, taking responsibility," Kraft said. "The only thing I ever heard on Aaron Hernandez was he was very young, immature, and potentially had problems presented in this letter. Never saw signs of anything else."
After he received his new contract, he immediately donated $50,000 back to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund, named after the owner's late wife.
"He spoke to me about wanting to be a role model in the Hispanic community," Kraft said. "… I believed him. … He knew how to push my buttons."
Robert Kraft said the Patriots had no advance knowledge of the charges that were filed against Aaron Hernandez.
Kraft reiterated that he and other top members of the organization had decided a week before Hernandez’s arrest that they would cut him if he was arrested in any way in connection with the murder investigation, even if it were for a charge like obstruction of justice.
"If any member of the New England Patriots organization is close enough to a murder investigation to actually get arrested — whether it be for obstruction of justice or the crime itself — it is too close to an unthinkable act for that person to be part of this organization going forward," he said.