Aaron Hernandez on Patriots in 2012: ‘You can’t come here and act reckless’

By Pat O’Rourke
BU News Service

On August 27, 2012, the New England Patriots signed tight end Aaron Hernandez, a budding NFL star, to a five-year contract extension worth up to $40 million in value, $16 million of which was guaranteed. If all came to fruition, Hernandez, along with teammate Rob Gronkowski, could very well make up the greatest 1-2 punch at tight end in NFL history.

Hernandez was emotional following the signing, grateful for the Patriots taking a chance on him in 2010 when character concerns dropped the all-world talent from the University of Florida to the fourth round of the NFL draft.

“It changed me as a person,” said Hernandez of the Patriots experience. “You can’t come here and act reckless and do your own stuff. And I was one of those [people] that when I came here, might have acted the way I wanted to act. But you get changed by the Bill Belichick way, and you get changed by the Patriot way.”

That tight-end tandem with Gronkowski never came to fruition. An ankle injury limited Hernandez to 10 games in 2012. The next June, as the football world usually lay quiet, Hernandez awoke the sleeping giant after news broke he was involved in a murder investigation. Less than two weeks later, he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Wednesday morning, we learned Hernandez would never again be a free man, charged with first-degree murder with no possibility of parole in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, of Dorchester.

Little did we know that this 22-year-old young man had just (allegedly) been involved in a double-murder in the South End a few weeks prior, charges he will stand trial for next. Little did we know that 10 months later, he would get carried out of his North Attleborough home in handcuffs, charged with murder.

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