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Deion Branch defends Aaron Hernandez: ‘great guy and a great friend of mine’

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(USA Today Sports Images)

News started spreading about Odin Lloyd's death and Aaron Hernandez's possible involvement almost two weeks ago, and in that time it was hard to find a prominent person in Hernandez's life that came forward and defended him publicly.

Someone has finally spoken out in positive terms about Hernandez, who was charged with murder this week.

Former Patriots teammate Deion Branch told the Albany Herald that the person being suspected of a brutal murder isn't the same one he knew during his three seasons as Hernandez's teammate.

“Aaron is a great guy and a great friend of mine and a great teammate,” Branch told The Herald. “I love him to death, and it was shocking to hear his name involved in this situation. I truly hope and pray he doesn’t have any dealings with it.”

The Patriots have totally disassociated themselves with Hernandez, even going so far as to offer fans the chance to exchange Hernandez jerseys for new ones after the team released him. And most of the stories about Hernandez over the past couple weeks have not painted him in a positive light. But Branch, while showing respect to the Lloyd family and saying he hopes whoever killed Lloyd is brought to justice, expressed surprise that Hernandez could be involved.

“That’s my guy, man,” Branch told The Herald. “That’s my guy. It really shocked me. He was a great kid. Overall, I hope the best that he isn’t involved with it and I hope he gets his name cleared, but most importantly I send my prayers and condolences out to the Lloyd family.”

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