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Don’t Try To Play Us, Robert Kraft. Aaron Hernandez Didn’t “Dupe” You

Robert Kraft, please.

Robert Kraft, please.

Your words sound good. They are just hard to believe.

Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, proclaimed the other day that if everything he has learned about his former tight end Aaron Hernandez is true, he was duped.

It’s the ultimate cover-your-butt move. It comes off so phony, so self-serving.


“If this stuff is true, then I’ve been duped and our whole organization has been duped,” Kraft told the Boston media.


It’s not an own-it statement, especially because of what didn’t follow that statement. If Kraft would have said that he and his staff were duped and because of it, some people were fired and changes were made regarding how they do background checks on future players, maybe you might buy it.

This dupe proclamation is simply hollow.

The only reason the Patriots were able to get a player like Hernandez is because he dropped in the draft due to issues in his past. They took a risk and it blew up in their faces.


Hernandez, a star at Florida, could have been a first-round pick, according to some scouts, and instead was grabbed by New England in the fourth round.

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Despite his obvious talents on the football field, plenty teams passed him up because their background checks and due diligence indicated that there could be a problem with Hernandez.


Sometimes, teams would rather pass on talent and, instead, take a character guy who needs more work.

For years, the Pats always believed they could bring anybody into their system and get them to buy in, conform to become a part of a championship franchise.

In other words, they were the Dr. Phil of the NFL. They were going to rehab a player, no matter the baggage.

That might work for a player who is merely lazy or one who needs more discipline.

Hard to imagine that you can change people who are involved in alleged illegal behavior, including violence.



This whole notion that the Pats “didn’t know” is phony. They didn’t stand by their man for 30 seconds, despite rewarding Hernandez with a $37.5 million contract extension last summer.


We saw the Ravens do it for Ray Lewis when the charge was originally murder in 2000 after two men were stabbed to death in Atlanta.

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Baltimore didn’t cut bait and run, because they believed in their man, a man that didn’t have a history of violence.

It worked out. Lewis came back and was a Hall of Fame player who helped them win two Super Bowls.

The Lakers didn’t cut and run on Kobe Bryant, who was caught up in an ugly rape case in Colorado in 2003. In fact, the Lakers allowed Kobe to use their private plane to go back and forth to court.


Easily, fans would have understood if L.A. put Kobe’s career on hold until the case was decided.

Here, the Pats dropped Hernandez as soon as the charges were announced. Hernandez was a star like Lewis and Bryant, not a benchwarmer. Still, the Pats never supported him; not even a kind word for the guy they paid millions and shared a locker room with.

What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Pats, apparently, weren’t feeling what this country was built on.

The reason is obvious. They knew, one can assume, that there were things about Hernandez’s past that probably weren’t going to allow this to go away with no damage to their organization.


In other words, they knew about Hernandez all the way and were never duped.


It’s a con game. Kraft must think he’s pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.

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Nope.

It’s the same thing with the lame jersey return gimmick. Days after Hernandez was led away in handcuffs, any fan could return their Hernandez jersey to the Pats and pick up a replacement of another player.

If the Pats were serious, how about giving the family of murder victim Odin Lloyd $1,000 for each jersey returned.

Naw. That would be serious, real deal. That move wouldn’t be a self-serving PR stunt.



If there’s a lesson here for both Kraft and other owners, it’s this: you have to do thorough background checks, and you can’t ignore a player’s past; especially, when it involves violence and illegal activity.

Shame on Kraft and the Pats. You made a mistake taking such a risk. Own it.


Rob Parker is a columnist for The Shadow League. He is also an analyst for Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles. He co-hosts The Odd Couple on Fox Sports Radio and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.