Allen Kim

Robert Kraft Speaks Out On Aaron Hernandez

Created on Jul. 08, 2013 8:10 PM EST

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, has spoken publicly for the first time since Aaron Hernandez was arrested on a first-degree murder charge involving Odin Lloyd. He immediately expressed his disappointment and disbelief at the entire situation.

“No one in our organization was aware of any of these kind[s] of connections. If it’s true, I’m just shocked,” Kraft said. “Our whole organization has been duped.”

The Patriots have attempted to distance themselves as far as possible from Hernandez. They immediately released him, despite the financial implications of such a hasty move, when they learned of his impending arrest. The team is faced with salary cap hits of $2.5 million this upcoming season and $7.5 million for the next.

“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. “It was principle, over money or cap or anything else.”

The Patriots went as far as to offer a Hernandez jersey trade-in program over the weekend, allowing fans to exchange their Hernandez jerseys for a new Patriots jersey of equal value. They reportedly lost upwards of $250,000 in the process, and plan on destroying all the jerseys and donating the material to be recycled.

In an attempt to defend the team’s decision to draft him, Kraft even produced a letter written by Hernandez to the organization prior to the draft, in which he owned up to his past and pledged to willfully submit to drug tests in order to prove that he was committed to staying clean. As far as Kraft was concerned, Hernandez was a model player that never showed any hints of his dark side while in New England.

 “I only know what goes on inside this building. We don’t put private eyes on people,” Kraft said. “When he was in this building, I was never exposed to anything where he was not positive. He was always polite, respectful.”

While limited due to the ongoing investigation and any potential civil proceedings, Kraft expressed empathy and sorrow for the victim and his loved ones. “The most sad thing is the Lloyd family lost a son, a brother,” Kraft said. “I’m really sorry, and my heart goes out to the Lloyd family.”

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