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During Hernandez’s three seasons since being drafted by the Patriots, he was one of Brady’s top receivers.

Asked if he thought he knew Hernandez, Brady said, “the relationship that you have as a football player, the relationship you have within the walls of (Gillette Stadium) are what they are and then people have their own life.”

Might people not know others as well as they think they do?

“I don’t know if you quantify those things,” Brady said. “How well do you know your kids? You try to do the best you can do, but everyone is ultimately accountable for their own decision making.”

Asked if Hernandez had fit in with his former teammates, Brady said, “I don’t think any of that really matters to me or matters to anything that’s going on with the legal process or anything like that.”

On the day before camp opened, Belichick displayed unusual patience with questioners and gave more detailed answers than usual after making an opening statement while using notes.

On Thursday, it was the turn of the team’s best player.

“It’s a terrible thing that happened,” Brady said. “There’s a very human, compassionate element that we all have and when it’s someone that has been on our team, it’s a very sad thing. So I think that we, as a team, have tried to move forward with better awareness and understanding of these types of things.”

He listed several former teammates _ Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Faulk, Troy Brown, Mike Vrabel _ who represented the Patriots well on and off the field.

“Everyone who has played here has played a part of what the New England Patriots are all about,” said Brady, wearing a dark blue sweatshirt with the words, “PATRIOTS ESTABLISHED IN 1960” on the front. “We realize that in light of the recent situation that probably those things get overshadowed and we’ve got to work hard to kind of re-establish what we’re all about.

“And that’s, like we said, to win games and to be the best representatives of this team and organization and representatives for this city that we can possibly be.”

Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork also spoke Thursday but didn’t mention Hernandez’s name.

“You’re dealing with a real-life situation, so it’s easy to get caught up in the media or speculations. We’re not here for that,” Wilfork said. “I feel bad for the victim’s family, but we have to move forward as a football team. That’s sad to say, but that’s reality.”

It’s important, he said, to keep off-field issues separate from players’ jobs on the field.

“It’s going to test this team’s chemistry. It’s going to test everyone that’s in this locker room,” Wilfork said. “It’s going to test to see how important football is to us. As a family, you just have to take it day-by-day, move forward day-by-day. At the end of the day, the ball is going to continue to roll and the last thing we want to do is be stuck behind the ball.”

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