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Patriots dispute facts in Hernandez story

The SportsXchange

The New England Patriots took issue with the Rolling Stone report on Aaron Hernandez, saying on Thursday that the story contained factual errors.

Patriots president Jonathan Kraft addressed some of the claims that involved Hernandez, the team's former tight end, and coach Bill Belichick in an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

Kraft said Belichick never told Hernandez to find a place to protect himself from shady characters with whom he surrounded himself, that Hernandez never told the coach that he feared for his life, or that Belichick threatened to cut him from the team.

"It said that Aaron had told Bill that he feared for his life and that his life was in danger and Bill's response was to tell him to get a safe house and lie low," Kraft said. "I actually saw Bill, I think I would've known if that had ever happened, but I saw Bill today and I said, 'Bill, did Aaron ever tell you his life was in danger?' And he's like, 'Absolutely not.'

"If a player had told Bill his life was in danger, Bill would say we're calling (team director of security) Mark Briggs, we're calling the authorities."

Hernandez is charged with murder in the death of 27-year-old semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd near Hernandez's home in North Attleborough, Mass.

"If we had known what people seem to think we know about Aaron Hernandez, we would not have done that deal," Kraft said of the five-year, $40 million contract extension that Hernandez signed last year. "And Bill would never threaten a player with being cut 12 months down the road; it makes no sense, both in terms of how you're interacting with the player and in terms of the cap.

"Here's the bottom line on the contract and everything else: In our history of owning this team, we have only signed two players who were drafted players after two years of playing. So giving them an extension, a new deal, an extension beyond their rookie deal, effectively their first free-agent contract because we do not sign players early like that. One was Rob Gronkowski and one was Aaron Hernandez, and we commit a lot of money before we had to.

"Our family doesn't like to do that if we feel like we're not making a good decision, and I can tell you that Bill Belichick doesn't like doing that either. Those cap dollars are precious."

Kraft also denied that Belichick hired Briggs to replace security chief Frank Mendes and that Hernandez missed team workouts while he was in Californina during the spring.

"I read that article and there's so much in it, and it reads like it's all factual, people were there, yet there are no named source," Kraft said. "It's all unnamed, and yet it appears like people are in some very private moments and got the dialogue just right. Nothing is sourced and reading the article, there were three things or two, three, four things in particular that I saw and I just know are completely factually inaccurate."
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