It has been just under three weeks since the New England Patriots released Aaron Hernandez, and team owner Robert Kraft broke his silence Monday claiming that he and his organization were consistently fooled and mislead by the incarcerated tight end.
"If this stuff is true, then I've been duped and our whole organization has been duped,” Kraft told reporters from ESPNBoston.com, The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald. "You can be sure we'll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things."
Hernandez was arrested on June 26 and subsequently charged with murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of Hernandez’s girlfriend’s sister, along with several firearm violations. Kraft said the decision to release Hernandez, which was announced 90 minutes after news of his arrest broke, was made as soon as the tight end was taken into custody but before his charges were made public.
"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,” Kraft said.
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Kraft also described how Hernandez appeared to be making strides away from a troubled past, which included several positive drug tests for marijuana at the University of Florida. In a 2010 letter to the Patriots, which Kraft shared with reporters, Hernandez vowed to make strives toward a better future and later told Kraft that he wished to become a role model in the Hispanic community.
"I ask you to trust me when I say you have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to me and the use of recreational drugs," Hernandez wrote. "I have set very high goals for myself in the NFL and am focused 100 percent on achieving those goals."
Even so, several teams were so wary of Hernandez’s past, they refused to even consider drafting him. According to an NFL.com report, the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts both never placed Hernandez on their draft boards.