The coach's opening statement was unlike anything we've really seen from him before. He was open, and very honest.

"A man lost his life," Belichick said, while extending his sympathies to the victim and all effected by the tragedy.

"It certainly goes way beyond being a football issue. This is real life," he said later.

Bill Belichick stood in front of the media for the first time since his former player Aaron Henandez was charged with murder. It was the topic of much debate whether or not he would address the situation, as the coach often deflects any distracting questions about off-field incidents. This was obviously different.

In an almost eight minute long prepared statement, Belichick detailed his thoughts on the situation, saying that he was "personally disappointed and hurt" by the news. He said that he was outside of the country when he heard the news, and both he and his coaching staff were shocked by it.

He wasn't shying away from responsibility, stating that he was responsible for the players that are brought into the organization. He was confident in the system the team has in place of evaluating players, stating that they have a strong track record in a system that's been used since 2000. However, he acknowledged that it was currently being re-evaluated and could have some modifications.

After his statement he did comment that he could not talk about Hernandez directly, as he needed to respect the judicial process. He did speak on general topics related to the incident though.

Below are some quotes, transcribed by myself and members of the media.

First here's Belichick's full statement, courtsey Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald:

"I’m going to address the situation involving Aaron Hernandez today" Belichick said. "I thought that it was important enough to do that prior to the start of camp. It’s a sad day, really a sad day, on so many levels. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim. I send my sympathy really to everyone who has been impacted. A young man lost his life. His family has suffered a tragic loss, and there’s no way to understate that.
"When I was out of the country, I learned about the ongoing criminal investigation that involved one of our players, and I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed at what we had learned. Having someone in your organization that’s involved in a murder investigation is a terrible thing. After consultation with ownership, we acted swiftly and decisively. Robert and his family and I, since I got here in 2000, have always emphasized the need for our team and our players and our organization to represent the community the right way, both on and off the field. We’ve worked very hard together over the past 14 years to put together a winning team that is a pillar in the community, and I agree 100 percent with that, the comments that Robert has already made on the situation. I stand behind those as well.
"This case involves an individual who happened to be a New England Patriot. We certainly do not condone unacceptable behavior, and this does not in any way represent the way that the New England Patriots want to do things. As the coach of the team, I’m primarily responsible for the people that we bring into the football operations. Our players are generally highly motivated and gifted athletes. They come from very different backgrounds. They’ve met many challenges along the way and have done things to get here. Sometimes, they’ve made bad or immature decisions, but we try to look at every single situation on a case-by-case basis and try to do what’s best for the football team and what’s best for the franchise. Most of those decisions have worked out, but some don’t.
"Overall, I’m proud of the hundreds of players that have come through this program, but I’m personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this. You know, as far as the whole process goes, I can tell you that we look at every player’s history from the moment we start discussing it, going back to his family, where he grew up, what his lifestyle was like, high school, college experiences. We evaluate the performance, intelligence, his work ethic, his motivation, his maturity, his improvement, and we try to project that into our organization on a going-forward basis. It combines a player’s personal history, but it also has to project what we think and how we think he will be in our environment.
"Obviously, this process is far from perfect, but it’s one that we’ve used from 2000 until today. And unfortunately, this most recent situation with the charges that are involved are not a good one on that record. But we’ll continue to evaluate the way we do things and the way we evaluate our players. We do it on a regular basis, not just at the beginning when they come in. We do it on a regular basis. Personally, I’m challenged by the decisions that affect the team on a daily basis, and I’m not perfect on that, either, but I always try to do what I think is best for the football team.
"We spent a considerable amount of time evaluating our current players and educating them on, not only football, but many other life experiences and off-field subjects. We stress high character, and we stress making good decisions. We’ll continue to do this, and we’ll work to do a better job of it as we go forward. We’ll learn from this terrible experience that we’ve had. We’ll become a better team from the lessons that we’ve learned. We have so many players on this team that work hard, that do the right thing, and have set a great example of being a professional and being a solid representative of this team and the community.
"I know that there are a lot of questions, fair questions, about this subject and related subjects. I’m not trying to make the story disappear, but I respect the judicial process and have been advised not to comment on ongoing legal proceedings. I’m advising our players to do the same thing. We’ve got a system in justice that deals with criminal charges, and ultimately the judge and the jury will determine the accountability. My comments are certainly not in proportion to the unfortunate and sad situation that we have here.
"I’ve been advsised to address the subject once, and it’s time for the New England Patriots to move forward. Moving forward consists of what it’s always been here -- to build a winning football team, be a strong pillar in the community and be a team that our fans will be proud of. That’s where we are."

Michael Saver 7/24/2013 02:33:00 PM Edit

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