FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick broke his silence Wednesday on the arrest of Aaron Hernandez, saying the club will learn from “this terrible experience” and it’s time to “move forward.”
Four weeks after the former Patriots tight end was charged with murder and cut by the team, Belichick addressed the issue during a 22-minute news conference one day before his team opens training camp.
He expressed sympathy for the family of shooting victim Odin Lloyd, said the in-depth process of studying a player’s background is “far from perfect” but wouldn’t be overhauled, and took responsibility for bringing people to the team.
“The hundreds of players we’ve had through this program in the last 14 years, there’s been a lot of good ones, a lot of real good ones,” Belichick said. “We’ll try to do a good job in bringing people into this organization in the future and try to learn from the mistakes that we’ve made along the way, of which there have been plenty.”
The Patriots are eager to move on quickly from the Hernandez situation and any stain it leaves on the image of a team that has won three of its five Super Bowls in Belichick’s 13 seasons as coach. Belichick usually doesn’t address the media at training camp until it’s begun.
“My comments are certainly not in proportion to the unfortunate and sad situation that we have here, but I’ve been advised to address the subject once, and it’s time for the New England Patriots to move forward,” he said. “Moving forward consists of what it’s always been here — to build a winning football team, to be a strong pillar in the community and be a team that our fans can be proud of.”
Belichick said he was out of the United States when he learned of the criminal investigation and was “shocked and disappointed.”
“This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot, and we certainly do not condone unacceptable behavior and this does not in any way represent the way that the New England Patriots want to do things,” he said. “As the coach of the team, I’m primarily responsible for the people that we bring into the football operation.”