Kraft: Patriots 'made a mistake' with Hernandez

Kraft: Patriots 'made a mistake' with Hernandez
July 8, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke to reporters on Monday for the first time regarding Aaron Hernandez's arrest and murder charge.

"If this stuff is true," Kraft said, "then I've been duped and our whole organization has been duped."

Kraft told the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and that he thought Hernandez was a "most likeable young man." He also admitted that the franchise "made a mistake and are facing it head on."

"You can be sure we'll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things," Kraft said.

Kraft said that he was out of the country vacationing in Europe when he first heard of Hernandez's arrest. Monday was his first business day back at home, and he explained that it was "important that our fan base hear directly from our organization."

A week before Hernandez was arrested, Kraft explained, the Patriots made the decision that if he was arrested in relation to the death of Odin Lloyd that the team would cut him immediately afterward.

When Hernandez was led out of his North Attleboro home in handcuffs, they didn't know he would be charged with murder, but they released him anyway.

"The rationale behind that decision was that if any member of the New England Patriots organization is close enough to a murder investigation to actually get arrested -- whether it be for obstruction of justice or the crime itself," Kraft said, "it is too close to an unthinkable act for that person to be part of this organization going forward."

It seems as though the Patriots organization was completely shocked that Hernandez could be involved with such a violent episode. Kraft insisted that when Hernandez was at Gillette Stadium, he was a model citizen.

"When he was in our building, we never saw anything where he was not polite," Kraft said. "He was always respectful to me. We only know what's going on inside the building. We don't put private eyes on people."

Kraft read from a letter that Hernandez wrote before the 2010 draft regarding his alleged use of marijuana while in college at the University of Florida. He agreed to bi-weekly drug tests during his rookie season and was even willing to pay back money if he failed.

"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," Hernandez wrote. "I have set very high goals for myself in the NFL and am focused 100 percent on achieving those goals."

The Patriots drafted him in the fourth round, and after two seasons signed him to a contract extension that would have kept him in New England through 2018.

"It obviously wasn't the correct decision," Kraft said.

But the Patriots, and Kraft in particular, trusted Hernandez at the time. He wasn't placed on any sort of restrictions and the coaching staff thought very highly of him.

Hernandez even donated $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund after signing his extension.

"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."