July 10, 2013

Pats owner admits to making 'mistake’

Robert Kraft said if all the charges against Aaron Hernandez are true, then he's been 'duped.'

By Ron Borges / Boston Herald

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —  Like most people in New England, Bob Kraft is a true believer in all things Patriots. Usually that would be a good thing, but on the day Aaron Hernandez was handcuffed and then charged with first-degree murder, it was anything but.

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Robert Kraft, New England Patriots owner and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Kraft Group, arrives at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, Tuesday, July 9, 2012.

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“If this stuff is true, I’ve been duped, and our whole organization has been duped,” a sad-faced Kraft said Monday, his first day back in Foxborough following a European vacation, during which Hernandez was arrested in North Attleboro for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

“Here we have a guy who, man, it looks like had the world by the tail. He said to me he wanted to be a role model to the Hispanic community.”

Hernandez presented Kraft with a check for $50,000 for the team’s charitable foundation after being given a $40 million contract extension last August.

“He was kind enough to give a check for my beloved wife’s memorial charity,” Kraft said. “He said we’d given him a second chance, and I believed him. He was the most likable young man. This is all sad to me. Very sad.”

Speaking publicly for the first time against the advice of his attorneys, Kraft said he felt the need for the public to hear from the organization, and frankly, he is the organization. Say what you want about Coach Bill Belichick or anyone else, but when push comes to shove, one voice dominates all others. 

The team still is here because he kept it here, and it will be here long after Belichick and Tom Brady are gone. And so on his first day back in his office, he spoke from the heart.

Reading from a prepared text before taking questions, Kraft said, “I want to establish up front that I have to be limited in what I talk about today as there is an ongoing criminal investigation as well as other potential civil proceedings. 

“In regards to that, I have been advised by my general counsel to limit the subject matter of our discussion today. That being said, I do think it is important that our fan base hear directly from our organization.

“Following Aaron’s arrest, I read a number of different accounts of how things transpired in our organization. Let me be clear. We decided the week prior to Aaron’s arrest that if Aaron was arrested in connection with the Lloyd murder case that we would cut him immediately after. 

“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 – it is too close to an unthinkable act for that person to be part of this organization going forward.”

A MATTER OF TRUST

Kraft then began a 40-minute discussion of the matter. Included was a letter signed by Hernandez and sent to the Patriots by his agent’s company – David Dunn’s Athletes First.

It was dated April 16, 2010, and it addressed concerns many NFL teams had about what Hernandez called “my alleged use of marijuana” before the draft.

In the letter, Hernandez offered to “submit to a bi-weekly drug test” throughout his rookie season (eight drug tests during the 2010 regular season) and said he would tie “any guaranteed portion of my 2010 compensation to these drug tests and reimburse the team a pro-rata amount for any failed drug test.”

The letter went on to say: “My point is simple – if I fail a drug test, I do not deserve that portion of the money. I realize that this offer is somewhat unorthodox, but it is also the only way I could think of to let you know how serious I am about reaching my potential in the NFL.

(Continued on page 2)

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