FOXBORO, Mass. — Aaron Hernandez’s name hasn’t been mentioned very frequently at Gillette Stadium over the past 22 months. New England Patriots players have been focused on football, not their former teammate, who had been sitting in jail.
That changed Tuesday, when Patriots safety Devin McCourty and special-teams ace Matthew Slater were asked about Hernandez, who was found guilty of first-degree murder last Wednesday and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“It’s just saddening,” McCourty said. “You talk about two lives being gone. I think it’s like everyone else — you look at that whole thing as just a saddening event and everything that went on.”
Hernandez, a 2010 fourth-round pick, was part of the same draft class as McCourty. Hernandez was a teammate of McCourty and Slater’s for three seasons before being charged with murder in June 2013.
“I’ll say this: That’s a very tragic, sad situation for so many different people, for so many different reasons,” Slater said. “I just feel like we should keep everybody involved and affected by that situation in our prayers and in our thoughts. That’s really all that I’ll say on that. My heart is broken on so many different levels on that. And I just pray for everyone that’s been affected by it.”
Hernandez, who’s being housed at Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Cedar Junction in Walpole, Mass., might be able to hear Gillette Stadium crowd noise from the prison yard.
Thumbnail photo via Charles Kruph/Associated Press