Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was flagged by many NFL teams for “character concerns” before the 2010 draft, mostly because he smoked marijuana while at the University of Florida and was viewed as a high risk for a potential suspension once he reached the NFL.
Hernandez, viewed by many teams as a first-round talent, took a unique tactic to try to assuage teams’ concerns: He wrote a letter to Patriots personnel executive Nick Caserio in which he admitted past mistakes and offered to take up to eight drug tests during the 2010 season if the Patriots were willing to draft him.
It is unclear if Hernandez also sent the letter to other teams. Here is the full text of the letter, which was written with help from Hernandez’s agents at Athletes First:
Dear Mr. Caserio,
I am writing in regards to some of the feedback I am receiving from my agents, Florida coaches, and other personnel. These sources have indicated that NFL teams have questions about my alleged use of marijuana. I personally answered these questions during the pre-draft process, but understand that NFL teams want to conduct thorough due diligence before making the significant financial investment inherent in a high draft pick. I have no issue with these questions being asked, but thought that it made the most sense to communicate with you directly regarding this issue so you would not have to rely upon second-hand information.
Any information I volunteer to you about my past will be looked at with great skepticism as I am trying to get drafted as high as possible by an NFL team. As such, I thought that the best way to answer your questions and your concerns was to make a very simple proposition. If you draft me as a member of the New England Patriots, I will willfully submit to a bi-weekly drug test throughout my rookie season (8 drug tests during the 2010 regular season). In addition, I will tie any guaranteed portion of my 2010 compensation to these drug tests and reimburse the team a pro-rata amount for any failed drug test. My agents have explained that a direct forfeiture provision in my contract along these lines would violate the CBA rules. However, I have instructed them to be creative in finding a contract structure that would work on in the worst case scenario, I would donate the pro-rata portion of any guaranteed money to the team’s choice of charities. My point is simple — if I fail a drug test, I do not deserve that portion of the money.
I realize that this offer is somewhat unorthodox, but it is also the only way I could think of to let you know how serious I am about reaching my potential in the NFL. My coaches have told you that nobody on our Florida team worked harder than me in terms of workouts, practices or games. You have your own evaluation as to the type of impact I can have on your offense. The only X-factor, according to the reports I have heard, is concerns about my use of recreational drugs. To address that concern, I am literally putting my money where my mouth is and taking the financial risk away from the team and putting it directly on my back where it belongs.
In closing, I ask you to trust me when I say you have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to me and the use of recreational drugs. I have set very high goals for myself in the NFL and am focused 100% on achieving those goals. So, test me all you want during my rookie year … all of the results will be negative while I am having an overwhelmingly positive impact on the field.
Good luck with your preparations for the NFL Draft and feel free to contact me or my agency (Athletes First/David Dunn) with any questions.
University of Florida
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, speaking publicly Monday for the first time since Hernandez was arrested, said the Patriots felt comfortable drafting Hernandez after receiving this letter, and didn’t believe he had any other major off-field issues.
“The only thing I ever heard on Aaron Hernandez was he was very young, immature and potentially had problems presented in this letter,” Kraft said. “Never saw signs of anything else.”