Even as he was a prized draft-eligible player coming out of the University of Florida in 2010, Aaron Hernandez (or his advisors) knew that concerns about his alleged off-field issues could complicate his draft prospects. As we now know, that's exactly what happened, with Hernandez falling to the Patriots in the fourth round because many teams were concerned about those same issues.
Still, Hernandez — or, let's be honest, his representation — crafted a letter designed to calm any fears about alleged marijuana use. (Note: violent actions are not included in the "don't worry!" missive.)
"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)," Hernandez wrote. "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 point is simple – if I fail a drug test, I do not deserve that portion of the money."
It's a nice sentiment, nice enough that the Patriots went ahead and drafted Hernandez and later gave him a fat contract extension. Even so, as team owner Robert Kraft recently noted, the team feels "duped" by Hernandez, who is now the focus of a murder investigation into the June shooting death of Odin Lloyd.
Here, per the Boston Herald, is the complete letter:
New England Patriots
One Patriot Place
Foxboro, MA. 02035
Dear Mr. Caserio:
I am writing in regards to some of the feedback I am receiving from my agents, Florida coaches and other NFL 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 a 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 or in the worst case scenario, I would donate the pro-rata portion of my 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 at my agency (Athletes First/David Dunn) with any questions.
University of Florida
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