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Belichick says Pats will learn from Hernandez case
Question of the Day
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - A grim-faced coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday the New England Patriots will learn from the “terrible experience” of Aaron Hernandez’s arrest on a murder charge and work to improve their player evaluation process.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the tight end was arrested four weeks earlier, Belichick said he was “shocked and disappointed” to learn of the criminal investigation while he was out of the United States.
He also sought to minimize future attention on the case.
“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,” Belichick 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.
“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.”
Players are scheduled to report to training camp on Thursday when quarterback Tom Brady and the five other captains from last season will be available to reporters. The first practice is scheduled for Friday.
Belichick opened his 22-minute news conference by speaking from prepared notes.
He expressed sympathy for the family of shooting victim Odin Lloyd, said the team’s 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,” said Belichick, who became coach in 2000. “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 about the same time as Belichick was speaking, Hernandez was in court for a probable cause hearing in which prosecutors asked for more time to present evidence to a grand jury. The hearing was rescheduled for Aug. 22.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim and I extend my sympathy really to everyone who has been impacted,” Belichick said. “A young man lost his life. His family has suffered a tragic loss and there’s no way to understate that.”
“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.”
He didn’t say, in response to a question, if he had talked with Hernandez since the player’s name was linked to it.
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