Former Patriots Star Hernandez Cleared of Double Murder Charges
Saturday, April 15, 2017
He was acquitted in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a drive by shooting in the South End of Boston on July 16, 2012.
Hernandez was also acquitted of witness intimidation for shooting prosecution witness Alexander Bradley in 2013 in Florida.
He was convicted of having illegal possession of a firearm.
Hernandez is serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd, which he was found guilty of in April of 2015.
Slides: The 5 Biggest Challenges of the Bill Belichick Era
Related Slideshow: The 5 Biggest Challenges of the Bill Belichick Era
Aaron Hernandez - Murderer
Bill Belichick and the Patriots released Hernandez the same day he was arrested.
On July 24, a month after Hernandez was arrested, Belichick held a press conference addressing Hernandez and the situation.
"I learned about the ongoing criminal investigation that involved one of our players and I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed in what we had learned. Having someone in your organization that’s involved in a murder investigation is a terrible thing. After consultation with ownership, we acted swiftly and decisively," said Belichick.
He added, ""I'm personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this."
In his Patriots career, Hernandez caught 175 passes for 1956 yards and 18 touchdowns.
While the investigation was going on and the chance that multiple Patriots players and coaches could be called to testify, the Patriots won the division, going 12-4 overall but lost in the AFC Championship game for the second straight year.
This time losing to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 26-16.
Down Goes Brady
In the first quarter of the first game of the 2008 season, Tom Brady was hit low in the right leg by Bernard Pollard of the Kansas City Chiefs, tearing his ACL.
Brady was out for the season.
In his place, Belichick turned to Matt Cassel to take over.
Cassel, came to the Patriots via the 7th round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of USC, had thrown a total of 33 passes his entire college career, playing back up to Carson Palmer and then Matt Leinart .
Taking over for Brady, Cassel completed 327 passes for 3693 yards and 21 touchdowns. He finished the season with a QB Rating of 89.4 and a completion percentage of 63.4%.
The Patriots went 11-5 that season but missed the playoffs, losing tiebreakers with the Dolphins.
The 2009 season brought changes to the Patriots, both in the front office and on the field. The result was a loss of leadership in the locker room.
Scott Pioli left the Patriots to be the general manager of Kansas City in January of 2009 and one month later offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels took the head coaching job in Denver.
On the field, Tom Brady was back. But linebacker Teddy Bruschi and safety Rodney Harrison announced retirement prior to the season. Then just before week 1, the Patriots traded Richard Seymour.
During the year, the Patriots were inconsistent, beating Baltimore at home but then losing on the road to Denver in early October and then getting embarrassed by the New Orleans Saints 38-17.
“I just can’t get these guys to play the way I want them to," Belichick was recorded telling Brady on the sidelines during the game. (Featured on A Football Life on NFL Network)
Adalius Thomas (pictured), who New England signed in 2007, was 1 of 4 players thrown out of practice for being late prior to a week 14 game.
The Patriots finished the year 10-6 and won the division but got shredded at home by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 in the wild card round.
The 199th Overall Draft Pick Takes Over
In just Bill Belichick’s second season with the Patriots, he was faced with a huge challenge when quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured on a hit by Mo Lewis of the Jets in the second week of the season.
Belichick went with Tom Brady, a 6th round pick and 199th overall out of Michigan in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Belichick and the Patriots went 11-5 and end it with a Super Bowl win over the St. Louis Rams in New Orleans.
Brady completed 264 passes for 2,843 yards and 18 touchdowns that year.
Training Camp Balancing Act
In training camp, Belichick has had to balance getting Jimmy Garoppolo ready to play, while also getting Tom Brady ready to play when he returns in week 5.
"Jimmy's preparation for the Arizona opener is the most important. Nothing has changed and nothing is going to change," said Belichick in August.
Over the course of training camp, Brady and Garoppolo alternated reps with the starters
In the first two preseason games, it was Jimmy Garoppol and third string back up Jacoby Brissett playing. Brady was not on the sidelines.
However, in the third preseason game Garoppolo played the first quarter, Brady the second and Garoppolo back for the first half of the third.
Garoppolo did not play at all in the fourth and final preseason game, while Brady played the first half.
The First Four Games
The second challenge is getting a Super Bowl favorite through the first four weeks of the season with a backup quarterback.
The Patriots need to come out of the first four games with at least a 2-2 record.
Garoppolo has never started an NFL game and in the preseason game against Carolina where he saw action agains the Panthers starters for extended time, he did not look good.
The outcome is to be determined as the Patriots season begins Sunday night with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.
But whether Belichick and the Patriots go 3-1 or 1-3, or any other record, with Garoppolo under center, this has been a major challenge for Belichick.
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