Today, the Patriots team captains are speaking. Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Devin McCourty all spoke to the media today. The only topic was Hernandez.
The captains echoed much of what Belichick said yesterday. They distanced the organization from the murder and also emphasized that they have to "ignore the noise".
"I'm still really proud of all of those guys who have worn the uniform," said Brady, citing examples like Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Faulk, Deion Branch and Wes Welker as players who have represented the organization and community well.
"Hopefully we can go out and do something that our community can really be proud of, I think that's the important thing," Brady said about moving forward. "The fate of our season is going to be determined by the guys in the locker room."
"We're not going to disrespect anything that's going on w/the families," said Wilfork. "but we do have to play football. Our job is to play football"
None of the players addressed Aaron Hernandez directly, as they were under advisement from Patriots PR not do to do so. They didn't even talk about their personal feelings on the subject. Still, you can maybe read between the lines a bit.
"I think I owe it to my teammates to not be a person that someone has to comment on," said Brady talking about distractions. "The best teammates I ever had. I never had to worry about."
The Patriots have faced many distractions as a team over the years. When you're at the top of the league so often, and in a market like Boston, that's inevitable. Still, this could prove to be the most challenging season of the Belichick-Brady era. Without the vocal leaders like Bruschi or Rodney Harrison in that locker room, a lot of responsibility will fall on the young players in that locker room to keep their teams focused.
"I think it's up to us to be leaders right now," said Devin McCouty, who enters just his fourth season in the league.
As a leader in an up and down secondary, McCourty has enough to worry about on the field without all of the Hernandez distractions.
"We're going to do everything in our willpower to ignore the noise and stay focused on the task at hand," Wilfork adds.
"Hopefully nothing like this happens ever again," said Brady.
Amen to that.