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Rolling Stone article suggests Patriots are no angels either when it comes to Aaron Hernandez

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  August 28, 2013 09:54 AM

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So, here’s what we learn about Aaron Hernandez, thanks to Rolling Stone’s “detailed investigation” into the former Patriot tight end’s past.

He is a bad man.

Egads. Thanks for playing, Rolling Stone.

However, if there is something to take away from the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Teen Beat report, which alleges that Hernandez was a heavy user of “angel dust” and became so paranoid over the last year that he carried a gun around with him everywhere he went, how “duped” could Patriots owner Bob Kraft truly have been when, as the magazine reports, he was one misstep from being cut by coach Bill Belichick?

Hmm.

It takes a really blind loyalist (and luckily, I know just where to find them) to not admit that the Patriots understood what they had in Hernandez before and after signing him to a $40 million deal last summer. According to the report, Hernandez had so infuriated Belichick, with “missed practices and thug-life stunts,” that the coach was ready to part ways with him, something the team finally did when the tight end was charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd in June.

Too late.

Not only should the Patriots have distanced themselves from Hernandez before signing him long-term, it’s becoming more and more evident that they never should have drafted him. As Rolling Stone reported, Urban Meyer, his former coach at Florida, “may have helped cover up failed drug tests, along with two violent incidents — an assault and a drive-by shootout outside a local bar.” But right. The Patriots were “duped.”
"When he was in our building, we never saw anything where he was not polite,” Kraft told a group of hand-selected reporters last month. “He was always respectful to me. We only know what's going on inside the building. We don't put private eyes on people."

As part of a Globe report on Sunday that detailed how private detectives noticed holes in the Patriots’ player background approach, the team released the following statement:
“The Patriots conduct extensive background checks, beyond those provided by the NFL, on every player we draft and acquire. We constantly seek ways to improve the player evaluation process and will continue to invest in ways that allow us to be as diligent as possible in every aspect of the overall evaluations.”

Those words might as well have been delivered with a shovel.

“To say Kraft only knows what’s going on in the building, it’s like having blinders and earmuffs on,” private investigator Bob Long said in the Globe report. “Is that all he wants to know?”

It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a statue of the three wise monkeys on his desk.

According to the Rolling Stone story, "After seeing his pre-draft psychological report, where he received the lowest possible score, one out of 10, in the category of “social maturity” and which also noted that he enjoyed “living on the edge of acceptable behavior,” a handful of teams pulled him off their boards, and 25 others let him sink like a stone on draft day, April 24th."

Not the Patriots though. Nope.

Which is it? Did the Patriots conduct an “extensive” background check on Hernandez, or were they merely “duped” by a moronic criminal who covered his tracks worse than Billy from “Family Circus?” *I mean, based on how Hernandez tried to cover up the Lloyd case, Detective Chimp would have a hard time not solving the mystery.

If Hernandez were close to getting cut merely for missed practices and “thug-life stunts,” why wouldn’t the Patriots do a little more due diligence on the man they so heavily invested in and determine what was going on? Instead, they turned a blind eye to the situation, and should rightly be questioned about their entire approach with the player, from the moment they drafted him until the day the cops showed up at Hernandez’s North Attleborough home to take him away.

They may not be complicit in the crimes, but they sure as hell knew the volatile man they had in Hernandez.

According to the forthcoming Rolling Stone story entitled, “Gangster in the Huddle,” by contributing editor Paul Solotaroff, “Both his parents, Dennis and Terri, had criminal records, as did much of his extended family. Terri allegedly cheated on Dennis before his death with a violent drug dealer named Jeffrey Cummings, then married Cummings after Dennis died and moved him into the house she shared with Aaron.”

Got all that? The Hernandez family comes off as something out of “The Wire.” I get the feeling you could have delivered the message by banging a cartoon hammer over the Patriots’ collective heads and they still would have preferred having a guy who could catch the ball over the risk that same guy posed.

Hernandez didn’t play a part, he was the part, and for the Patriots to preach that they knew little about his past or his off-field life is somewhat duplicitous. Maybe they don’t hire private investigators, but a simple background check, which they boast that they perform on “every” player, would have revealed some stark concerns about Hernandez.

Too bad the “one misstep” ending up costing a life.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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