2:20 p.m.: Well, that’s it. After a turbulent few weeks and the last few hours of wondering what Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could really do in a situation like this, Belichick gave one of the most helpful press conferences he’s ever delivered.
Belichick’s opening statement, which ran about seven minutes, was as open and forthcoming as they come. Belichick communicated the shock of his receiving the news of the allegations against Aaron Hernandez. He went over how the Patriots assess players, saying the team doesn’t plan to adjust its approach but realizes that it made some mistakes.
Belichick made sure to start by expressing the gravity of the situation, acknowledging Odin Lloyd’s family. He reiterated later that this was much bigger than a football issue — “it’s real life.”
While much of what Belichick said is what would be expected in a situation like this, he also showed some candor. He talked about being personally “disappointed and hurt” and called it a “sad day” for the franchise.
For those looking for Belichick’s reaction to all this, though, this is likely the only place to find it. Belichick also said again and again that he would not comment further on the case, calling it a “judicial process” and saying the Patriots need to move on. He didn’t refer to Hernandez by name after his initial mention, using “the player” instead throughout.
That moving on, at least for Belichick, starts now.
2:18 p.m.: 22 minutes long is the rough count from that press conference. Belichick cut it off mid-question.
2:16 p.m.: Catching up on a few more key points: Belichick said the team knew nothing about previous allegations against Hernandez, including the double homicide investigation and Florida allegations. He gave a straight “no” when asked whether the Patriots had prior knowledge.
He also provided a moment of levity when one reporter used the phrase “without being too specific” in a question. “I don’t think you need to worry about that,” Belichick said.
Belichick was very forthcoming in his first statement but has made it clear since that he’s not interested in going into detail beyond what he provided. He reiterated that the Patriots want to move on and, while the team will take a second look at some of the ways it evaluates players, he doesn’t fault the team for not seeing this coming.
He also mentioned that guns being a problem in the league has been a topic of discussion for decades.
Belichick also said he considers his relationship with owner Robert Kraft still strong.
2:12 p.m.: Belichick says he’s proud of most of the players who have come through the Patriots organization. He says the team is not going to be perfect, but he’s confident moving forward.
2:09 p.m.: Belichick is pulling out some old cards, saying each decision is made on a “case-by-case” basis and that decisions are made according to “what is best for the football team.”
He again talked about the Patriots moving on. He’s not giving any specifics about personnel questions.
“We had multiple players in, and we signed the player that we felt was best for our football team,” he said.
2:07 p.m.: Belichick continues to take questions about how the team acquired Hernandez and kept him around despite red flags.
“We certainly talk to our players and our team about what’s expected,” Belichick said.
When asked whether he had spoken to Hernandez, Belichick said again that he would not comment on players involved in ongoing legal investigations.
2:04 p.m.: Belichick said the beginning of camp is a time when the Patriots generally reassess players, so he said the team will do as it usually does and assess players again when the team opens camp this week.
“We take it for what we feel like the value on it is,” Belichick said of how the team sifts through information.
Belichick said that process won’t change, although he said it may be “modified” moving forward. He said that, much like reporters, the team has to assign weight to different pieces of information.
2:02 p.m.: Belichick is offering some canned answers, but he reiterated that he was caught off-guard when he got the news while out of the country.
He said the team is still assessing what to do going forward — he says the next draft is still a ways off.
2:01 p.m.: Belichick says he respects the judicial process and that he isn’t going to make further comments. He says he thought he needed to address the situation, but he wants to let the process carry itself out. He said he and the team want to turn the focus toward football.
“My comments are certainly not in proportion to the unfortunate and sad situation we have here,” he said.
Belichick appeared to be rather forthcoming until he finished his statement. After that, he greeted the first two questions from reporters by saying he wouldn’t comment on people involved in the case but would rather leave that to the “judicial process.”
So, it looks like Belichick’s first statement is going to be the bulk of the meat from this one.
1:58 p.m.: Belichick is talking about how the Patriots look through players’ pasts before bringing them into the organization. He said he and others use a process that, while “far from perfect,” has been what the team has used since he arrived.
He said the team recognizes that players come from different backgrounds and have to overcome different challenges. He took responsibility as a coach and said such challenges are part of his job.
“I always try to do what’s best for the football team,” he said.
He says the Patriots don’t condone such behavior and that the team cares what players do on and off the field. He said the team will look to learn from the situation.
“This does not in any way represent how the New England Patriots” want to do things, he said. He said other players on the team show what the team stands for.
“We try to look at every single situation on a case-by-case basis and try to do what’s best for the franchise,” he said.
Belichick also gave some personal insight.
“I’m personally disappointed and hurt in a situation like this,” he said.
1:53 p.m.: Belichick calls it a “sad day” and extends his sympathy to the victim. He emphasizes this is about a young man’s life.
He says he was out of the country when he got the news about Aaron Hernandez and that he was “shocked” to hear the allegations.
“Having someone in your organization that’s involved in a murder investigation is a terrible thing,” he said.
He said the Patriots acted “swiftly and decisively.”
1:52 p.m.: Go time.
1:49 p.m.: We’re waiting. Belichick is, for the record, four minutes late.
1:25 p.m.: Belichick’s time will come, but Aaron Hernandez’s day has already started. The former Patriots tight end was spotted showing up to Attleborough District Court.
Follow that live blog here.
1 p.m.: We’ll be bringing you some live streaming action as well once this gets underway.
Find that here.
11:30 a.m.: It would make sense for Bill Belichick to talk about Aaron Hernandez today, and it would be nice for him to shed some insight and satisfy everyone’s questions. But this is Belichick, and most people keeping an eye on today’s press conference aren’t optimistic.
While Belichick could take a turn from how he usually discusses personnel topics, he probably isn’t going to talk about Hernandez’s past, how the team is feeling after the huge turn of events or how this has shocked Patriots supporters. Belichick will sometimes share personal thoughts months or years after the fact, but the situation is too fresh — and still very much in limbo — for the Patriots coach to talk about much more than what his team will be doing, which is Belichick’s usual style anyway.
That expectation had some folks who cover the Patriots speculating — and poking fun — Wednesday morning as they looked ahead to Belichick’s press conference. Check out a sampling of what to expect this afternoon.
Bill Belichick will meet with the media tomorrow at 1:45 p.m. instead of 2 p.m., for those of you planning your day around this thing.—
Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) July 23, 2013
Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) July 24, 2013
Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill! What day is it, Bill? #FirstQuestion—
Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) July 24, 2013
I hope Bill Belichick reads off the lyrics to Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" as his opening statement.—
Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) July 24, 2013
CSNNE.com (@CSNNE) July 24, 2013
Would be so easy for Belichick to diffuse this thing today. Not saying he will or is required to, but it's definitely within his power.—
Rich Levine (@rich_levine) July 24, 2013
If Belichick says anything of substance today, it'll be a bigger upset than Super Bowl XLII wp.me/p14QSB-9dPw—
(@ProFootballTalk) July 24, 2013
Boston Herald News (@bh_mobile) July 24, 2013
CSNNE.com (@CSNNE) July 24, 2013
now that Royal baby is here, maybe British bookmakers will take odds on how many times BB says "I'm only talking about guys who are here"—
shalise manza young (@shalisemyoung) July 22, 2013
Looking forward to Bill Belichick's press conference today, especially when he does it over in French. "Elle est ce qu'elle est." #claude—
Tim Whelan Jr. (@thattimwhelan) July 24, 2013
11:20 a.m.: An interesting wrinkle in today’s happenings is that today is also the day Aaron Hernandez is due back in court.
A probable cause hearing in the murder case of Odin Lloyd is being held in Attleborough District Court at 2 p.m. The Patriots originally scheduled the Belichick press conference for 2 p.m. as well but moved it up 15 minutes so as not to coincide with the court appearance.
We’ll keep you up-to-date on what happens there.
11 a.m. ET: Bill Belichick usually just wants to talk about the players who are on the Patriots’ roster. That may change Wednesday.
Belichick has taken the unusual step of calling a press conference before camp begins for the Patriots. While he usually talks — “talks” being used loosely here — to the media on the opening Friday of camp, he will have words (presumably) today at 1:45.
Most people think that this press conference is to address the Aaron Hernandez situation. The entire storm of Hernandez allegations — and the arrest and release of the former New England tight end — didn’t take place until after OTAs broke in June. While the Patriots have released statements, Belichick hasn’t talked about Hernandez at all. Today would provide the opportunity to get that out of the way so Belichick can deal with football-related questions Friday.
How much Belichick will actually say is very much in question, though. Famous for his short, evasive remarks, Belichick doesn’t open cans of worms unless he thinks he needs to, and he’s likely looking to put the Hernandez situation to rest once and for all.
Check back here throughout the day for some thoughts on what the press conference will entail, as well as an actual rundown of Belichick’s remarks starting around 1:45.