Bill Belichick Breaks Silence on Aaron Hernandez Murder Case (Video)

Thursday, 25 Jul 2013 10:20 AM

By Newsmax Wires

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Bill Belichick broke his silence Wednesday on Aaron Hernandez's arrest and alleged murder, and the New England Patriots coach said the club will learn from "this terrible experience" and it's time to "move forward," according to The Associated Press.

Four weeks after Aaron Hernandez, a former Patriots tight end, was charged with murder and cut by the Patriots, Bill Belichick addressed the issue during a 22-minute news conference. Bill Belichick's conference comes one day before the Patriots opened training camp.

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Bill Belichick expressed sympathy for the family of shooting victim Odin Lloyd, said the in-depth process of studying a player's background is "far from perfect" but wouldn't be overhauled, and took responsibility for bringing people to the team.

"The hundreds of players we've had through this program in the last 14 years, there's been a lot of good ones, a lot of real good ones," Bill Belichick said. "We'll try to do a good job in bringing people into this organization in the future and try to learn from the mistakes that we've made along the way, of which there have been plenty."

At times, Bill Belichick glanced down at notes and gripped both sides of the podium. Bill Belichick declined to answer some questions about Hernandez, saying he had been advised not to answer those about people involved in the legal case.

Bill Belichick's relationship with team owner Robert Kraft continues to strengthen, he said.

Kraft has said he was "duped" by Aaron Hernandez. When Belichick was asked if he also had been "duped," he said he couldn't comment.

"I'm not trying to make this story disappear, but I respect the judicial process and have been advised not to comment on ongoing legal proceedings. I'm advising our players to do the same things," he said. "Ultimately, the judge or the jury will determine the accountability."

Quarterback Tom Brady and the team's other five captains are scheduled to speak with reporters on Thursday. The first practice is set for Friday.

The Patriots are eager to move on quickly from the Hernandez situation and any stain it leaves on the image of a team that has won three of its five Super Bowls in Bill Belichick's 13 seasons as coach. Bill Belichick usually doesn't address the media at training camp until it's begun.

"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," he 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 and be a team that our fans can be proud of."

At a court hearing that overlapped with Bill Belichick's news conference, prosecutors asked for more time to present evidence to a grand jury. Hernandez was in court for what was supposed to be a probable cause hearing, but prosecutors said the grand jury is still considering the evidence against him.

The probable cause hearing was rescheduled for Aug. 22.

Aaron Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in the shooting death of Lloyd, a 27-year-old Boston semi-professional football player whose body was found June 17 in an industrial park near Aaron Hernandez's home in North Attleborough.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim and I extend my sympathy really to everyone who has been impacted," Bill Belichick said. "A young man lost his life. His family has suffered a tragic loss and there's no way to understate that."

Bill Belichick said he was out of the United States when he learned of the criminal investigation and was "shocked and disappointed." He didn't say, in response to a question, if he had talked with Aaron Hernandez since the player's name was linked to it.

"This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot, and we certainly do not condone unacceptable behavior and this does not in any way represent the way that the New England Patriots want to do things," he said. "As the coach of the team, I'm primarily responsible for the people that we bring into the football operation."

Aaron Hernandez dropped to the fourth round in the 2010 NFL draft because of character issues. Several teams took him off their draft board.

Bill Belichick said "the fundamentals" of the Patriots' player evaluation process will stay the same as they've been since he became coach in 2000, but the team will work hard to do it better.

"We look at every player's history from the moment we start discussing it," he said, "going back to his family, where he grew up, what his lifestyle was like, high school, college experiences. We evaluate his performance, his intelligence, his work ethic, his motivation, his maturity, his improvement and we try to project that into our organization on a going-forward basis.

"We'll continue to evaluate the way that we do things, the way that we evaluate our players and we'll do it on a regular basis, not just at the beginning when they come in."

Asked if the Patriots will focus more on off-field issues when scouting college players, he said, "We have a process in place. Can it be improved? Can it be modified? It possibly can. We'll certainly look at it."

Belichick wouldn't answer a question about starting cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who was charged with first-offense drunken driving after being pulled over in his car on July 11 in Lincoln, Neb., while on probation. He remains on the team.



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