Belichick on Hernandez: “Personally, I’m hurt.”
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has addressed many questions, from many reporters for many different reasons throughout his career.
It's safe to say, however, he's never had to address a situation like the one he's facing today, on the eve of Training Camp opening for 2013.
In speaking about the arrest and charges of murder brought against former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez for the first time, Belichick gave the crowd of reporters at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro his personal thoughts on the incidents.
"It was a sad day on so many levels, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim," Belichick began. "His family has suffered a tragic loss and there is no way to understate that.
"When I was out of the country I learned of the criminal investigation and I and others were shocked to learn of the investigation," he continued. "After consultation with ownership we acted swiftly and decisively (to release Hernandez). Robert (Kraft) and his family, since we got here, have always emphasized the team represent the community, both on and off the field and we’ve worked very hard over the past 14 years to put together a team within the community."
As to his personal feelings, Belichick shared a side that he rarely - if ever - shares with the football public. "This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot. We do not condone this behavior and in no way does it represent the Patriots. Our players are generally highly motivated and come from many different backgrounds, challenges along the way and sometimes they make challenging or bad decisions.
"I'm personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this," Belichick added. "We look at every players' history from the moment we start looking at them…high school, college experiences, his work ethic, motivation, maturity and level of improvement and try to project that into our organization. It also has to project how we think he will be in our environment.
"The process is far from perfect, but it’s what we’ve used from 2000 til today. We’ll continue to evaluate the way we do things, and we do things on a regular basis."
Belichick added the organization does spend a considerable amount of time in the evaluation process for all members of the team, no matter the role. "We spend a considerable amojnt of time educating them – stressing high character and making good decisions. We’ll learn from this terrible experience and we’ll become a better team from what we’ve learned. We have so many players on this team who do the right thing."
As to specifics involving Hernandez' case, which ironically was being heard for probable cause in an Attleboro, MA court at the same time (and postponed to August 22), Belichick refrained from commenting further on advice of legal counsel. The same held true when asked about CB Alfonzo Dennard, who faces a DUI charge and a possible probation revocation in Lincoln, NE next month.
"Time for the New England Patriots to move on, to be a pillar in the community, " Belichick declared. "That’s our direction and that’s what we’re going to do.
"There’s a lot of good ones (players), real good ones. We have a long track record, we’ll continue to evaluate our team. I'm confident in all of the people we’ve brought into our organization. I'm sure going forward we’re not going to be 100% perfect, just like everyone else."