New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he was shocked and disappointed when he learned that tight end Aaron Hernandez had been charged with murder.
“Overall, I’m proud of the hundreds of players that have come through this program, but I’m personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this,” Belichick said today in his first public comments since Hernandez was arrested June 26 and released by the Patriots later the same day.
Belichick met with reporters in Foxboro, Massachusetts, a day before veteran players are scheduled to report for the National Football League team’s training camp.
“This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot. This does not in any way represent the way the New England Patriots want to do things,” Belichick said. “We worked very hard together over the past 14 years to put together a winning team that is a pillar in the community.”
Belichick said the organization’s “thoughts and prayers” are with the family of victim Odin Lloyd, 27, whose body was found June 17 in an industrial park in North Attleboro, about 30 miles southwest of Boston. Hernandez, 23, who has pleaded not guilty, played three seasons with the Patriots.
“I and other members of our organization were shocked and disappointed,” Belichick said. “After consultation with ownership, we acted swiftly and decisively.”
A judge in Attleboro today rescheduled a probable cause hearing for Hernandez until Aug. 22 after prosecutors asked for more time to present evidence to a grand jury, the Associated Press reported.
The Patriots selected Hernandez in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Florida. He was an All-American and the 2009 winner of the John Mackey Award as college football’s top tight end.
In three years with the Patriots, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound tight end had 175 receptions for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“My comments are certainly not in proportion to the unfortunate and sad situation that we have here, but I’ve been advised to address the subject once, and it’s time for the New England Patriots to move forward,” Belichick said. “Moving forward consists of what it’s always been here: to build a winning football team, to be a strong pillar in the community, to be a team that our fans can be proud of.”
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