Hernandez Pleads Not-Guilty

As the Patriots start a new season, Jim Poore explores the stain left on the New England brand by former tight end Aaron Hernandez, who recently plead not-guilty to murder charges.

By Jim Poore

From domestic violence to gun infractions, Aaron Hernandez allegedly lived a so-called "gangster" life.

The former New England Patriots tight end pleaded not guilty Friday in the June 17th shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player. Lloyd's body was found in a Massachusetts industrial park.

While Hernandez sits in jail between court appearences, the Patriots are gearing up for the season opener without their former star tight end. Hernandez's plea marked his sixth appearance in a courtroom since his June 26 arrest. Hernandez faces first-degree murder with various other weapons charges. He will be held without bail until his next court appearance on October 9.
Hernandez in court (USA Today)

When the 23-year-old Hernandez was let go by the Patriots after his arrest in June, how aware of his sketchy past did the Patriots know? Patriots owner Bob Kraft said he was "duped" by Hernandez before giving him a five-year $40 million extension last season that included a $12.5 million signing bonus. It was the largest signing bonus given to a tight end.

It makes more sense they knew more than they let on to the public about Hernandez, but they just did not care. Winning football games and scoring touchdowns was more important. Why else would they give him that money? Hernandez was a major part of that tight end centerpiece for their offense.

The Patriots knew he associated himself with very shady characters and he isolated himself from his teammates. They knew he was leading a double-life as a drug user. Granted, they had no idea he'd be charged with murder, but they chose to turn the other cheek on everything else. They just did not care because Hernandez often found the end zone and produced on the field.

As this story develops through the court system, despite the Patriots wanting to move on from Hernandez; this stain will not go away. And it shouldn't. The Patriots deserve the negative press after keeping a player with such low standards and morals.

The Patriots will continue to have their loyal followers no matter what they do, but that doesn't change the fact they paid this alleged monster remains disturbing, shocking and flat out inexcusable.

The "Patriot Way" will never be looked at the same way again.


Jim Poore has been a long time contributor to Patriots Insider with his weekly picks column. Let him know what you think. Email him here:

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