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Eric Wilbur's Sports Blog

The More Kraft Ignores the Aaron Hernandez Allegations, the More it Hurts the Patriots

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Roger Goodell and Bob Kraft held court in Foxborough on Thursday, and all you probably heard was “Tom Brady can play forever.”

Aaron Hernandez?

Please refer to Kraft’s comments from last summer.

A Super Bowl in Foxborough?

You’ll have to look at the NFL’s wink, wink, handshake notebook of underhanded deals. See: Minnesota.

As manipulative as always.

The NFL’s dog-and-pony show was in full display at Gillette Stadium this week, when the commissioner was on hand for a clinic for mom athletes aimed at youth safety, which apparently had nothing to do with the NFL’s other self-imposed coaching course, one Deadspin’s Drew Magary has already proved to be a colossal joke.

Goodell preached how competitive it remains for teams to bid for the enormous headache of hosting a Super Bowl. Kraft gushed over Brady’s longevity, but bristled against any questions about Hernandez, his former employee now facing three counts of murder in the state of Massachusetts. Both posed for photo-ops with Billerica’s Shawsheen Technical High School, which was holding its prom at Gillette Stadium Thursday evening.

Kraft, the czar of the Patriots empire, then surveyed all that he had created and deemed it was good.

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Sorry. Seeing as this was Bob Kraft’s first public appearance since Hernandez was indicted for two (more) murders, he owes a bit more than the “duped” message he delivered last summer. If the allegations are true, the New England franchise employed a man for an entire season after he killed two people over what amounts to spilled milk at a Boston nightclub. Not to lessen the egregious nature of a man it takes to lead an acquaintance to a North Attleborough industrial park and put a bullet in him, but the latest charges indicate a set of traits that the Patriots have been steadfast about denying they had any clue about, even after every other team on the draft board passed on Hernandez for “character issues.”

“When he was arrested, we cut him from the team, I was very clear about it,” Kraft told reporters on Thursday. “You can go back and read what I said then.”

Of course, Kraft’s comments came amidst a hand-picked group of reporters last July, when he said, “My heart goes out to the Lloyd family.”

So, since Kraft refuses to address the latest charges, should we assume his heart doesn’t go out to the families of Safir Furtado and Daniel de Abreu? How thoughtful.

Give Kraft and Bill Belichick this: they cut bait with Hernandez in lieu of defending the psycho for any inordinate amount of time. But the team’s insistence to instantly distance itself from the Hernandez situation is so nauseating that it only harbors more questions. It can’t be argued that the team drafted a player with a checkered past, and knowing what we know about how paranoid the Patriots organization is about every detail - even siccing their embedded media members on every last negative drop that is uttered - exactly how did that not become a more spirited debate come time to make the drafting call?

Simply put, if the farcical “Patriot Way” was supposed to be all about character and desire, how the hell did the Patriots ignore the hammer over the head that was Aaron Hernandez?

It’s a question that we’re never likely to know, unless the unlikelihood of the Patriots brass being summoned in trial - under oath - comes to pass. Until that day, we’ll just get press conferences fit for “The Lego Movie” in which Tom Brady is awesome and Super Bowls are hard to come by.

"It's important for us to talk about the rewards of playing the game of football," Goodell said in a canned statement Thursday at New England’s safety demonstration. "It's important for us to get the right information to moms and to families that are making the decisions - and to encourage our kids to play sports.”

That’s only one way the NFL is trying to bury the issue of concussions in its game. The Patriots are on a whole other level when it comes to ignoring the (alleged) murderer they felt fit to employ and set free in the community surrounding Patriots Empire.


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