New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addressed the media as the team opened training camp on Thursday. Brady was asked if he had been contacted by former tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Odin Lloyd, but was told by Patriots vice president of media relations Stacey James to not comment on that situation as the legal process is ongoing.
“Stacey told me I can’t comment on any of that,” Brady said. “Stacey told me — it’s a good question, but I’m not supposed to comment on any of those things.
"I’m really not supposed to comment on Aaron."
While Brady could not delve into specifics on Hernandez, he did discuss his own emotions upon hearing the news that a teammate was charged with murder.
"How long ago was that? About six weeks ago," Brady said. "I think everyone had a certain range of emotions, whatever they might have been but those were really personal and I dealt with them. At some point you have to move forward and I think we as a team are doing that. the best part is really coming out to start the football season and talk about what the challenges we have ahead of us and certainly it’s been a challenging offseason but we’re going to try to move forward as best we know how.
"There’s a very human, compassionate element that we all have and when it’s someone you know has been on our team, it’s a very sad thing," Brady added. "I think that we as a team have tried to move forward with better awareness and understanding of these types of things. Hopefully nothing like this ever happens again."
Brady said that the Patriots need to "re-establish what we're all about", which was "to win games" and represent the community.
"We’re here to try to win football games and try to represent all of New England," said Brady. "I think that we try to do that the best way we know how. There’s a very high standard that so many guys have really set forth before I got here, when I got here. I learned from Drew Bledsoe and he was such a great example of what a person, how they should act on the field and off the field. Hopefully some of the younger players can look at some of these captains out here today as role models. That’s usually a good example to lead by."
Winning games will be difficult without Hernandez and perhaps Rob Gronkowski, who is on the "physically unable to perform" list after undergoing forearm and back surgeries this offseason. With Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead off the roster, Brady was asked about adjusting to new targets in the passing game.
"There’s quite a bit of turnover, like we all know and we’ve seen. I’m used to that," Brady said. "There’s not many things that I haven’t had to deal with over the course of my time – at tight end or running back or receiver or offensive line. We’ll try to find a way to make it work. We have five or six weeks until our first game. We have nine practices until we go practice against Philly. I’m excited. We put a lot of work in this spring to see where we’re at now. Hopefully we can start building on where we left off six weeks ago."