New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke publicly for the first time about the Aaron Hernandez murder charges this afternoon.
Belichick met the media at a press conference at the team’s facility in Foxborough, Mass., to address the situation, the occasion for which he called “a sad day, really a sad day on many levels.” See embed of the entire press conference above.
The press conference occurred almost simultaneously with Aaron Hernandez being back in court for a probable cause hearing. The judge rescheduled the hearing for August 22 to allow prosecutors to complete gathering evidence into the complex investigation; he also ruled on several motions related to the release of documents in the case. In the meantime, the former Pats tight end remains in jail.
The coach began his remarks by expressing condolences to the family of the victim and noted that he was out of the country when he first learned about the murder investigation involving one of his players. “I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed in what we had learned.” He explained that because of the ongoing legal proceedings and the judicial process he would not make any further comments on the specific case.
Said Belichick: “… Having someone in your organization that’s involved in a murder investigation is a terrible thing… This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot. We certainly do not condone unacceptable behavior and this does not in any way represent the way that the New England Patriots want to do things.”
Belichick continued: ” We spent a considerable amount of time evaluating our current players and educating them on not only football, but many other life experiences and off-field subjects. We stress high character and we stress making good decisions. We’ll continue to do this and we’ll work to do a better job of it as we go forward.”
In the Q&A with reporters that followed, Coach Belichick again highlighted that the team engages in substantial due diligence about a player’s background before drafting or signing him and that the team will try to find ways to do a better job in the screening process moving forward.
He praised the players on the team that work hard and set a professional example and that he does have discussions with his squad about appropriate off-field behavior. “… of the hundreds of players we’ve had through this program in the last 14 years, there’s been a lot of good ones, a lot of real good ones, and we’ll try to do a good job in bringing people into this organization in the future and try to learn from the mistakes that we’ve made along the way, of which there have been plenty.”
Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murder and firearms violations in connection with the death of his friend Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player whose body was found in an industrial park near the NFL star’s home in North Attleboro, Mass., on June 17. He is currently being held without bail in Bristol County, Mass. Jail, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Hernandez is also reportedly under a separate criminal investigation for a 2012 drive-by double homicide in Boston last year. The ex-Pats tight end is also being sued in civil court for personal injuries for allegedly shooting a man in Florida after they argued in a Miami strip club. The Patriots released the star tight end within hours of his arrest.