Aaron Hernandez is currently locked away in solitary confinement while the case against him grows stronger and stronger. Meanwhile, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has decided to break his silence on Henandez’s arrest.
Speaking to a group of Boston reporters, Kraft explained that he and his organization feel that they have been “duped” by Hernandez and that Hernandez was a “most likable young man” when he was around team personnel.
“If this stuff is true, then I’ve been duped and our whole organization has been duped.”
“You can be sure we’ll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things,” Kraft told reporters from ESPNBoston.com, The Boston Globe and Boston Herald in a 40-minute session in his office.
“My heart goes out to the Lloyd family,” he said. “I feel bad that someone connected to our organization is connected to this.”
Along with the good behavior Hernandez exhibited while a member of the Patriots, Kraft and the Patriots were apparently convinced that Hernandez was a player worth taking a chance on because of a letter Hernandez wrote to the organization prior to the 2010 NFL draft. Here are the details of that letter:
Dear Mr. Caserio,
I am writing in regards to some of the feedback I am receiving from my agents, Florida coaches and other NFL personnel. These sources have indicated that NFL teams have questions about my alleged use of marijuana. I personally answered these questions during the pre-draft process, but understand that NFL teams want to conduct due diligence before making the significant financial investment inherent in a high draft pick. I have no issue with these questions being asked, but thought that it made the most sense to communicate with you directly regarding this issue so you would not have to rely upon second-hand information.
Any information I volunteer to you about my past will be looked at with great skepticism as I am trying to get drafted as high as possible by a NFL team. As such, I thought that the best way to answer your questions and your concerns was to make a very simple proposition. If you draft me as member of the New England Patriots, I will willfully submit to a bi-weekly drug test throughout my rookie season (8 drug tests during the 2010 regular season). 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. My agents have explained that a direct forfeiture provision in my contract along these lines would violate the CBA rules. However, I have instructed them to be creative in finding a contract structure that would work or in the worst case scenario, I would donate the pro-rata portion of my guaranteed money to the team’s choice of charities. My point is simple –- if I fail a drug test, I do not deserve that portion of the money.
I realize that 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. My coaches have told you that nobody on our Florida team worked harder than me in terms of workouts, practices or games. You have your own evaluation as to the type of impact I can have on your offense. The only X-factor, according to the reports I have heard, is concerns about my use of recreational drugs. To address that concern, I am literally putting my money where my mouth is and taking the financial risk away from the team and putting it directly on my back where it belongs.
In closing, I ask you to trust me when I say you have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to me and the use of recreational drugs. I have set very high goals for myself in the NFL, and am focused 100% on achieving those goals. So, test me all you want during my rookie year … all of the results will be negative while I am having an overwhelmingly positive impact on the field.
Good luck with your preparations for the NFL Draft and feel free to contact me at my agency (Athletes First/David Dunn) with any questions.
University of Florida
The Patriots ended up drafting Hernandez in the 4th round of that draft and gave him a contract extension in 2012 worth $40 million. Something that Kraft now regrets.
“It obviously wasn’t the correct decision,” Kraft said.
“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.”