New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has broken his silence on Aaron Hernandez, sitting down with a number of media outlets to discuss the situation.
The 72-year-old, who has owned the team since 1994, recounted his initial shock when one of his stars became embroiled in a homicide investigation.
Hernandez has since been charged with the premeditated murder of Odin Lloyd.
"If this stuff is true, then I've been duped and our whole organization has been duped," Kraft told ESPN of the player he drafted out of Florida in 2010.
“Here we have a guy who, man, it looks like had the world by the tail. He said to me he wanted to be a role model to the Hispanic community," Kraft said.
“He was kind enough to give a check for my beloved wife’s memorial charity. He said we’d given him a second chance and I believed him."
"He was the most likeable young man. This is all sad to me. Very sad.”
While Kraft had previously remained silent, the actions of his organization spoke volumes. Less than two hours after his arrest, the Patriots released him.
Two days later, the team announced that fans would have an opportunity to exchange Hernandez jerseys for gear with the name of another player.
Kraft said this is necessary “if any member of the New England Patriots organization is close enough to a murder investigation to actually get arrested."
"Whether it be for obstruction of justice or the crime itself - it is too close to an unthinkable act for that person to be part of this organization going forward."
The Patriots drafted Hernandez out of the University of Florida in 2010 and signed him to a five-year, $40 million contract extension before the 2012 season.
In the days since Hernandez was taken into custody, a troubling history of brushes with the law - including, potentially, two more murders - has been revealed.
Kraft explained that Hernandez answered the Patriots' concerns about his character in 2010, writing him a letter saying they had "absolutely nothing to worry about."
According to Kraft, the team saw no indications of trouble with Hernandez.
“I only know what goes on inside this building. We don’t put private eyes on people,” Kraft said. “When he was in this building, I was never exposed to anything where he was not positive."
"He was always polite, respectful.”