When Aaron Hernandez left Florida to enter the 2010 NFL draft, he was viewed by some as a character risk because of positive drug tests and his admission that he had used marijuana in college. And if Hernandez was a character risk, then it seemed out of character for the Patriots to be the team that drafted him.
But the Patriots did draft him, and if there was any doubt that Hernandez was the right fit for the franchise, that doubt was erased by the way he’s played in his first two NFL seasons. And when the Patriots made a long-term commitment to Hernandez today, signing him through 2018 with $37.5 million in new money, they made clear that Hernandez is just the kind of player they want.
So why is Hernandez, once viewed as a character risk, now viewed as a perfect team player? Hernandez said in an emotional press conference today that the Patriots have changed him.
Hernandez seemed particularly touched that Patriots owner Robert Kraft thought he was worth a long-term investment, and to show his appreciation Hernandez donated $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund.
“I said, ‘Aaron, you don’t have to do this. You’ve already got your contract,’” Kraft said. “He said, ‘No, it makes me feel good and I want to do it.’ And that made me feel good.”
Everyone in New England is feeling good about Hernandez’s future with the Patriots.