Hernandez death ruled suicide; three notes found near Bible

Hernandez death ruled suicide; three notes found near Bible

Aaron Hernandez’ death has been ruled a suicide, according to the Worcester County District Attorney’s office. 

A statement released Thursday notes that “there were no signs of a struggle” and that it was determined that “Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging.”

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There were also "three hand-written notes next to a bible" in Hernandez' cell.

The complete statement is as follows: 

SHIRLEY -- The death of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez on Wednesday at the Souza-Baranowski Correction Center has been ruled a suicide, according to Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., Col. Richard McKeon, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, and Secretary of Public Safety Daniel Bennett.

Mr. Hernandez, 27, was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell shortly after 3 a.m. on Wednesday. He was brought to UMass-Memorial Health Alliance Hospital in Leominster where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields performed an autopsy on Mr. Hernandez on Wednesday and concluded today that the manner of death was suicide and the cause asphyxia by hanging.

An investigation into the death by the State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office and Department of Correction investigators found cardboard jammed into the door tracks of his single-inmate cell to impede entry into the cell.

There were no signs of a struggle, and investigators determined that Mr. Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging.

Mr. Hernandez was locked in his cell about 8 p.m. and no one entered the cell until a correction officer observed him at 3:03 a.m. and forced his way through the impeded door to render aid.

The cell was processed by State Police Detectives and Crime Scene Service Troopers. Investigators found three hand-written notes next to a Bible in the cell.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released Mr. Hernandez’s body on Wednesday, but withheld some tissue including his brain until the cause and manner of death was determined. Now that the cause and manner of death have been determined, the brain will be released to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center as Mr. Hernandez’s family wishes. The center studies a progressive degenerative brain disease found in some athletes who have experienced repetitive brain trauma.

Mr. Hernandez was serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder in 2015 in the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro. 
 

When it comes to Gronkowski's restructured deal, 15 is the magic number

When it comes to Gronkowski's restructured deal, 15 is the magic number

Rob Gronkowski's contract looked like one of the NFL's best bargains not too long ago. Now, after agreeing to a contract restructure, he could be paid as the top tight end in the league if he stays healthy.

Granted, it's a gargantuan "if."

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gronkowski's restructured deal will bump his salary for this upcoming season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million should he hit certain statistical thresholds or be named an All-Pro.

Per Schefter, Gronkowski earns $10.75 million if he plays 90 percent of the offensive snaps (which he's done once before in his career), or makes 80 catches (which he's done twice), or gains 1,200 yards receiving (once), or is named an All-Pro (three times). 

Those seem like lofty goals for the 28-year-old who's entering his eighth year as a pro. But history shows that if he stays on the field for a full season or thereabouts -- 15 games to be specific -- he'll get to where he wants to be. 

If you take out his rookie year, before he had established himself as a go-to option in the Patriots offense, Gronkowski has played in three seasons during which he's reached at least 15 games. In each of those three seasons, he's been named an All-Pro. In 2011, he hit all three statistical markers. In 2014, he hit one. In 2015, he hit none. 

The lesson? When Gronkowski stays relatively healthy throughout a given season, even if he doesn't reach the astronomical statistical heights he reached in his second year, there's a very good chance he's considered the best tight end in the NFL. 

And if that's the case again in 2017, he'll be paid like the best tight end in the NFL.

To hit the second tier of his restructured deal -- which would pay him $8.75 million, per Schefter -- Gronkowski needs to play 80 percent of the offensive snaps (which he's done twice), or make 70 catches (three times), or gain 1,000 receiving yards (three times), or catch 12 touchdowns (twice). 

To hit the third tier of his new deal and get $6.75 million, Gronkowski needs to play 70 percent of the snaps (which he's done four times), or make 60 catches (three times), or gain 800 receiving yards (three times), or score 10 touchdowns (five times). 

According to Spotrac, Jimmy Graham of the Seahawks is currently scheduled to be the tight end position's top earner next season at $10 million. Odds are that if Gronkowski avoids disaster and stays on the field, he'll eclipse that.

But the odds of him staying on the field are what they are: He's played in 15 games in four of seven pro seasons. 

The restructured deal seems to be the ultimate incentive for Gronkowski to get healthy and stay that way following last year's season-ending back surgery. If he can, the Patriots will reap the benefits of having the game's most dynamic offensive weapon on the field, and the player will be paid a far cry from what he was scheduled to make when the week began.

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10.