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Belichick expresses sadness

The SportsXchange

New England Patriots coach Bill Belicick met with the media for the first time since former tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder last month.

Belichick called it a "really sad day" while speaking to reporters at a news conference at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots begin training camp.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim," he said. "A young man lost his life, his family has suffered a tragic loss and there's no way to understate that."

The Patriots released Hernandez on June 26 just hours after his arrest. Belichick said he was out of the country when he learned about the criminal investigation.

"After consultation with ownership, we acted swiftly and decisively. Robert (Kraft) and his family, since I got here in 2000, have always emphasized the right way to represent the team and the community," Belichick said. "This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot. we certainly do not condone that thype of behavior and it certainly doesn't represent the way we want to do things.

"As the head coach, I'm ultimately responsible for the players on this team. ... Overall, I'm proud of the hundreds of players that have come through this program, but I'm personally disappointed and hurt."

In the wake of the Hernandez case, Belichick and Patriots management will evaluate personnel assessments -- player history, work ethic, performance, maturity, intelligence -- going forward.

"I think the process is the same as it has been the last 14 years, Belichick said. "We'll continue to look ourselves in the mirror and see where we can do a better job, but the fundamentals of the (player evaluation) process will remain the same.

"Obviously, this process is far from perfect, but it's one we've used since 2000 until today. Personally, I'm challenged by decisions that affect the team on a daily basis. I'm not perfect on that either. But I try to do what is best for the football team.

"We spend a considerable amount of time educating our football team -- we stress high character and we stress making good decisions. ... We'll learn from this terrible experience. We'll learn and become a better team for the lessons we hav elearned.

"We have so many good players on this team that work hard on being a good example to be a member of this team."

Belichick deferred on answering reporters' questions.

"I've been advised not to comment on ongoing judicial proceedings and I've advised our players to do the same," he said. "The judge and jury will ultimately determine accountability. .... I've been advised to address the subject once and it's time for the New England Patriots to move forward.

While Belichick was speaking, Hernandez was back in court on Wednesday and prosecutors were granted a 30-day continuance at a probable cause hearing on murder charges in the death of semipro football player Odin Lloyd.
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