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Branch calls Hernandez a “friend,” finds allegations “shocking”

940x AP

It’s now fashionable to dump on accused murderer Aaron Hernandez, and for good reason.  He allegedly killed one man, and he may have killed two others.

Former teammate Deion Branch has opted for a different path.

“Aaron is a great guy and a great friend of mine and a great teammate,” Branch told the Albany Herald at his eighth annual Skills and Drills Camp at Albany State University, via Tom Curran of CSN New England.  “I love him to death, and it was shocking to hear his name involved in this situation.  I truly hope and pray he doesn’t have any dealings with it.”

It’s looking less likely all the time that Branch’s hopes and prayers will be answered.  Still, he’s demonstrating a degree of loyalty that is uncommon in cases like this.

“That’s my guy, man,” Branch said regarding Hernandez. “That’s my guy.  It really shocked me.  He was a great kid.  Overall, I hope the best that he isn’t involved with it and I hope he gets his name cleared, but most importantly I send my prayers and condolences out to the Lloyd family.”

Hernandez may be acquitted but his name will never be cleared.  More importantly, Odin Lloyd will never be going home, and Branch is sensitive to that.

“Nobody deserves to walk, whoever the person is that did it,” Branch said.  “Most of all what we as Americans need to understand is that is somebody’s child that was a victim. . . .  [M]y prayers and thoughts go out to his family and hope that they bring whoever did this to their child to justice, regardless of who it is.”

Branch easily could have kept his mouth shut or offered a lukewarm-at-best assessment of a guy who may never get out of prison.  Branch’s words nevertheless reflect a certain amount of naivete.

Lloyd was shot and killed in a quiet New England town in the wee hours of a Monday morning.  Minutes later, Hernandez’s own surveillance system showed a car pull in and Hernandez get out.

Carrying a gun.

And the car, a rental, contained a shell casing that matched the shell casings found at the scene.

Maybe there’s an explanation that allows Hernandez escape direct or indirect responsibility for Lloyd’s death.  Eventually, his lawyers will have a chance to create reasonable doubt in the minds of 12 jurors.  For now, any suggestion that Hernandez wasn’t at least involved seems foolish, to say the least.

But it’s hard to fault Branch for being loyal.  Maybe at some point he’ll cut and run on Hernandez.  For now, Branch isn’t willing to wash his hands of Hernandez.  Naive or not, we should all be lucky enough to have a friend who is inclined at least initially to cling to the good, no matter how troubling the bad looks.

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72 Responses to “Branch calls Hernandez a “friend,” finds allegations “shocking””
  1. mossking says: Jun 30, 2013 2:04 PM

    Arron is a great guy, he never killed me.

  2. bchapman2011 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:07 PM

    I am sure Branch is a good guy but loyalty should only go so far. This goes for friends and family. I have heard his Mons comments and it is time for her to wake up as well. Guys your son and friend is a cold blooded killer and he is lucky that the state of MA does not have the death penalty.

  3. granadafan says: Jun 30, 2013 2:08 PM

    Hernandez hired some pretty high priced lawyers with a rep for getting their clients to beat what was perceived to be air tight cases. As with other high profile cases it depends on a slick lawyer and a stupid jury as we saw with OJ, Casey Anthony, Robert Blake, etc. Hopefully Hernandez’s name wont be added that list.

  4. dcee101 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:11 PM

    Commence bashing of Branch for having an opinion. I for one think Hernandez deserves the harshest penalty available, however I respect Branch for having an opinion.

  5. yousuxxors says: Jun 30, 2013 2:13 PM

    a good friend who branch would not go out with …. Aaron asked me to go the club??? what do I say? I don’t want to get shoot.

  6. battle23 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:15 PM

    Loyalty or Branch doesnt want to be #4..lol

  7. tfbuckfutter says: Jun 30, 2013 2:15 PM

    I actually appreciate Branch’s candor.

    I have friends who are involved in things I definitely wouldn’t involve myself in, and I wish they didn’t involve themselves in…..but I can really only judge them on my personal interactions with them, and they have always been good, loyal friends to me.

    Until I know they are hurting others, I can’t judge them outside of our friendship. However, if they do harm others, I hope they are punished.

    So I really understand where Branch is coming from.

  8. waitingguilty says: Jun 30, 2013 2:16 PM

    Of course he’s saying this- He doesn’t want to get a capped popped in his back side.

  9. patriotsdefense says: Jun 30, 2013 2:19 PM

    Something tells me that Branch may not be aware of all the details.

    All and all, everyone does deserve they’re day court but Florio hit nail on the head: Hernandez will never clear his name of this, irregardless if he is able to cheat the justice system.

    Hopefully he never walks. He deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars. I hope he enjoys watching football on Sundays. I hope it breaks his heart.

  10. sourdoughsam says: Jun 30, 2013 2:20 PM

    Aaron should have spent more time around Deion Branch and less time around Bo Fish.

  11. insider7 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:21 PM

    “Naive” is not really the word to describe Deion Branch.

    To anybody who has watched him closely over the last 10 years, he is a very considerate, religious and kind man who prefers not to say something negative about a person. That’s just the way he is. He often responds with “sir” when answering questions put to him by the media after a game.

    His first instinct is to say something positive. The NFL would benefit by having more people like Deion Branch in the league.

  12. nyyjetsknicks says: Jun 30, 2013 2:22 PM

    How often are people arrested for serious crimes and people say: “oh yeah, definitely saw that coming. I told my buddies that this guy was going to be involved (allegedly) muliple murders”?

  13. brissby24 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:23 PM

    Naive for saying he was close friend and he hopes that the allegations aren’t true? What a monster!

  14. Stiller43 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:23 PM

    “It’s looking less likely all the time that Branch’s hopes and prayers will be answered. Still, he’s demonstrating a degree of loyalty that is uncommon in cases like this.”

    The same thing happened with joe pa. Everyone in the world knew he was involved in cover up. Only REAL delusional penn state apologists (one may have had his own “italian army”*) defend him to this day. People that are really close to the alleged wrongdoer are just wearing rose collered glasses, and theyre hoping theyre not involved more than they actually believe it.

    *that would be a reference to Franco Harris, for those who won’t get that…

  15. tebowislife says: Jun 30, 2013 2:24 PM

    Until the night of Odin Lloyd’s murder Aaron Hernandez was just one of the “good guys” exercising his second amendment rights.

    And to think that people got their panties in a bunch when Bob Costas suggested that the NFL had a gun problem.

  16. portlandmainefan says: Jun 30, 2013 2:24 PM

    Deion Branch is one of the finest and most upstanding gentleman in the NFL. Check his record. Please do not call him criticize him for honestly saying he was a friend and in the relationship he had with Hernandez he thought he was a good kid. he didnt express an opinion on guilt or innocence. He said he was a friend. I think Hernandez is guilty as hell but remember we all thought that about those Duke Boys and some thought Bruan Banks was just as overwhelming guilty. So we have to let the legal process play out in spite of our collective feelings that Hernandez is the lowest form of scum.

  17. gochargersgo says: Jun 30, 2013 2:27 PM

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with what Deion said. He’s just hoping that when its all said and done that Hernandez wasn’t involved, while acknowledging that it is shocking and not likely that he will be cleared. I think if any of our friends were accused of a serious crime we would all be taken by surprise, but share a similar sentiment.

  18. nomoreseasontix says: Jun 30, 2013 2:28 PM

    Branch is lucky to be alive.

  19. captainwisdom8888 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:31 PM

    Branch is just reminding everyone that Aaron isn’t just some evil monster, he’s a good human being that isnt all bad. No matter how good you believe you truly are, even the best of people can make impulsive and despicable decisions under the right circumstances. Hernandez has made some huge mistakes for sure, and I agree that even if he manages to avoid prison and legal trouble, his name will NEVER be cleared. The dude was clearly involved, but now the big question will be to what degree he was involved.

  20. jetslakersfan says: Jun 30, 2013 2:35 PM

    Nothing wrong what he said. The problem should be the dummy that already got this guy convicted. We have only heard one side of this story. I did 6 months in jail for a crime I didn’t do. So I look at it different then most.

  21. harrisonhits2 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:38 PM

    Its been very shocking to me too.

    Especially as an example of how fragile life is and how your situation can change for the worse in the blink of an eye.

    It has reminded me to value and not disregard what I do have in my life and inspired me to work harder for my own success.

  22. vincentbojackson says: Jun 30, 2013 2:43 PM

    Hernandez has destroyed his life, but apparently he can’t adequately destroy a home surveillance system.

  23. packhawk04 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:43 PM

    Branch likely truely believes hernandez is a good guy. He probably never hung out with hernandez and his clan. Ive known people who i thought were nice, good people that i never spent time with outside work, only to find out they had various issues that idve never guessed. I understand where branch is coming from.

  24. bukes111 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:45 PM

    I admire Branch’s comments and he prays that Aaron is not involved but if you read all of his comments, Branch knows Aaron is guilty. And he acknowldeged the focus should be on the victim and you obviously can’t walk after a heinous crime. His prayers are not for Aaron to beat the rap, but hoping that this some kind of crazy mistake and Aaron is not involved. He’s not naive, just a man of faith.

  25. pamiho32332013 says: Jun 30, 2013 2:49 PM

    I’m sure all murders have close friends that were shocked.

  26. officialgame says: Jun 30, 2013 2:50 PM

    Sometimes it’s just better to say nothing.

  27. barrywhererufrom says: Jun 30, 2013 2:51 PM

    it reminds me of the neighbor who would say..he is such.a nice guy..i am in shock that he is homicidle maniac..people where shocked over oj too

  28. nfloracle says: Jun 30, 2013 2:55 PM

    I still vividly remember from back in 2006 how most of the major news media as well as most of the public crucified three members of the Duke Lacrosse team for an alleged rape and essentially found them guilty and worthy of long prison sentences for what they’d supposedly done.

    As it eventually turned out, the lead prosecutor, Mike Nefong, was a lying douche who was happily willing to ruin the lives of multiple young men to further his own political ambitions. Nifong was eventually disbarred for “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.” Nifong was found guilty of criminal contempt and served one day in jail.

    In 2007, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges and declared the three players innocent. The three boys were innocent of all the charges, but it cost their families a lot of money, not to mention all the pain involved with the charges brought against the boys by the “justice” system.

    I’m not saying Hernandez is innocent.

    I am saying that all those who are so quick to find him guilty need to visit Wikipedia to read a time-line history of what happened with the Duke Lacrosse case.

    People who do that won’t be quite so quick to judge Hernandez, I don’t think.

    As an old man who has viewed a lot in his life, I mourn the passing of the “innocent until proven guilty” idea that was once, at least in theory, a part of American culture and ideology.

    These days, all too many of us are way too quick to jump to conclusions regarding guilt of people we don’t even know in circumstances we know little about.

  29. charlutes says: Jun 30, 2013 2:59 PM

    You poke Branch from your high horse because that’s what you do for a living, prattle on about athlete-celebrities. Really, his comments are sensible and you aren’t adding anything to the narrative at all, except for another trashy blog post.

  30. latenightroach says: Jun 30, 2013 3:08 PM

    So I guess that Hernandez’s short list of friends now consists of Rae Carruth and Deion Branch.

  31. kd75 says: Jun 30, 2013 3:08 PM

    Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

  32. tigersfandan says: Jun 30, 2013 3:18 PM

    If a friend of mine was implicated in a murder, I’d also hope and pray that he wasn’t involved. I don’t blame Branch for feeling this way.

  33. jiggy3198 says: Jun 30, 2013 3:22 PM

    He’s afraid if he says anything different hell end up with a Columbian neck tie

  34. doe22us says: Jun 30, 2013 3:23 PM

    In the end do you really know a person? Shoot i dont even trust myself sometimes, my grandma always said “she doesnt even trust her left hand”. The human being is fraught with complexities that the nice neighbour next door could be a serial killer or something worse. In the end do we really know?

  35. deadunicorn says: Jun 30, 2013 3:26 PM

    Isn’t Branch a guy who cheated to win Super Bowls? Should he really be chiming in?

  36. jbaxt says: Jun 30, 2013 3:28 PM

    Note to self, this guy”possibly” killed multiple people and isn’t convicted, yet. You love him until he’s behind bars or you could be next.

  37. annes22 says: Jun 30, 2013 3:30 PM

    I suppose Branch was only saying what he feels. Good job he wasn’t out that fateful night, or he might not be here now to say anything. He obviously doesn’t know Hernandez at all.

  38. jonbeck316 says: Jun 30, 2013 3:33 PM

    Branch is really going out on a limb here

  39. higgy1 says: Jun 30, 2013 3:35 PM

    Stupid is what stupid does !!!!

  40. skasome says: Jun 30, 2013 3:39 PM

    I don’t believe it’s loyalty he is displaying, but rather shock and disbelief of a horrible act that may have been committed by a friend. The key statement made was ” [M]y prayers and thoughts go out to his family and hope that they bring whoever did this to their child to justice, regardless of who it is.” Regardless of who it is includes Aaron Hernandez. That is someone with compassion for all parties including the victim who happens to know the alleged murderer.

  41. j0esixpack says: Jun 30, 2013 4:07 PM

    Branch knows you don’t publicly badmouth a member of the Latin Kings if you want to live.

  42. maiphatdong says: Jun 30, 2013 4:11 PM

    I pretty much do know. i personally don’t know one serial killer or murderer,

  43. 84smooninlambeaunevergetsold says: Jun 30, 2013 4:22 PM

    They’re only good friends because Branch showed him how to work that “film watching thingy”. Geez, good one Welker, see what kind of relationships you missed out on??

  44. helladonks says: Jun 30, 2013 4:26 PM

    Based on some of these comments, you’d think Branch said “I don’t think he did anything, there’s no way”.
    Which he didn’t

  45. jeremyphillip says: Jun 30, 2013 4:27 PM

    To criticize Branch for giving his heartfelt opinion is ridiculous. The media complains when athletes don’t speak & they complain when they don’t lie about how they truly feel about a situation. Branch knew the guy he played with on the field. He probably didn’t know the guy who was on the streets late at night. Why would Branch put someone down when he doesn’t even know the facts. Despite Hernandez looking guilty it still doesn’t change the opinion about someone overnight. Especially if you just know them on the job

  46. lovetron says: Jun 30, 2013 4:38 PM

    I guess we all have a different idea of what constitutes a “great guy”.

  47. ballreaper says: Jun 30, 2013 4:40 PM

    Deion branch who i always thought was a relatively decent human being , Comes across like a real TOOL here.
    These are moments as a athlete out of RESPECT for the VICTIM family you stay away from this situation by reserving comments.

  48. patriotenvy says: Jun 30, 2013 4:40 PM

    If that’s true, makes me wonder what I don’t know about some of my acquaintances. Like I was told by a wise old man – the only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.

  49. commonsensedude says: Jun 30, 2013 4:58 PM

    Hernandez should be glad that he wasn’t accused of murdering three people in a state that has the death penalty. Otherwise, he’d be shocked as well. You know, in the literal sense.

  50. duffelbagsports says: Jun 30, 2013 5:06 PM

    Deion Branch is the classiest most respectful player in the NFL and I know this for a fact. Read his statement which was honest, loyal, empathetic toward the victim. How anybody can criticize him or give a thumbs down says more about you than him.

  51. 69finfan says: Jun 30, 2013 5:31 PM

    Deon hopes and prays that Hernandez doesn’t have any dealings with it. Are you kidding me. That would be like hoping and praying that the Japaneese didn’t have anything to do with bombing Pearl Harbor. WAKE UP DEON!

  52. securb2013 says: Jun 30, 2013 5:37 PM

    I think Mr. Free Agent is just trying to get his name on the lips of some front office people.

  53. hvoigt21 says: Jun 30, 2013 5:42 PM

    I pray for Arron Hernandez….He for sure is one troubled human being….He may be a monster and he probably took someone’s life, but he is Gods child, I am going to let God judge him..that may be what Dion Branch is saying…He was good to me…he was a friend of mine… t is too bad that no one took him under their wing and got to know him better ..maybe saving his life and others…..I hope he finds Christ and sincerely ask for his forgiveness before he dies…

  54. rockinkuwait says: Jun 30, 2013 6:22 PM

    Deion Branch is a very smart man. IF those charges don’t stick… Matt Light might be getting paid a visit by Hernandez… lol

    Actually, it is sad to see this.

  55. keylimelight says: Jun 30, 2013 6:23 PM

    Aside from Deion Branch’s kind words, the issue about the shell casing found in the car…about how it got there…

    Did Hernandez fire the gun out his car window at some point during all that driving they did?…to perhaps punctuate some threat he was making to a certain passenger…He wouldn’t have taken a casing from the murder scene and then dropped it in the car…just wondering.

  56. thirdistheworrd says: Jun 30, 2013 6:28 PM

    Friends are great, I love my friends, but there comes a time to cut the cord on a friendship, and for Branch that should have been last week.

  57. mattwalshvideo says: Jun 30, 2013 6:34 PM

    Certainly beats the phony “who us? we never knew him and what he was about” routine Bob Kraft and Bill Belicheat have played out for the hack media to gobble up.

  58. sellout1983 says: Jun 30, 2013 7:17 PM

    I’m going to let God judge him. But, I’m also going to judge him. My sympathy is with the victim(s).

  59. billsfan1 says: Jun 30, 2013 7:45 PM

    I don’t believe branch said ah didn’t do it. I think he said he hopes ah didn’t do it.::. Nothing shocking or naive about what branch said… I’d say the same thing if that was my friend/ fact is branch must have doubts though

  60. steelcurtainn says: Jun 30, 2013 7:49 PM

    That’s quite an observation branch, doesn’t seem like most of his teammates felt the same way. Funny, how no one else is speaking about him.
    Hernandez is a threat to society period.

  61. libradad53 says: Jun 30, 2013 9:00 PM

    Working in Criminal Forensics, it is worth pointing out that most people would not be able to pick out an anti-social personality (aka a socio-path). They can be very charming, fun and charismatic. All the while the only concern they have while being so friendly, charming and suportive is what is in it for them, how do they look, their image. It is all about power, control. In this case, it sounds like he had a lot of people, friends, the media his team mates fooled. I would like to know what “Psych tests” he allegedly aced. A perfect score would be a big time warning sign. Ultimately, their desire to control others and their own image is what casues them to come undone.

  62. sellout1983 says: Jun 30, 2013 9:21 PM

    Okay steelcurtain, two words: Ben Roethlisberger

  63. saints4life57 says: Jun 30, 2013 10:19 PM

    Good for Branch for being a stand up guy! He clearly stated that he would like to see justice brought to “WHOEVER” did this which doesn’t exclude Hernandez! It’s just he hopes that his friend is not guilty in some way! Remember he is not guilty yet reguardless of how air tight the case is! When it’s all said and done i’m sure he will have something different to say but for now he is standing behind his buddy! The world needs more good friends like that! And a lot less friends like Hernandez! ; )

  64. hooterdawg says: Jun 30, 2013 10:54 PM

    I do not think it is responsible for any adult holding a youth football camp to be stating to the media that a former teammate charged with a cold blooded killing is a great guy and friend. The kids at the camp are reading/hearing his words, and must be confused. How can another adult still be so supportive of a man who murdered his OWN great friend? Is this another episode of Dumb and Dumber? Try being a better example to kids, Deion. Keep your opinions to yourself.

  65. itsfootballfolks says: Jun 30, 2013 11:00 PM

    I’m 57 years old. As far as I know, I met my first sociopath when I was 16 years old at Walpole State Prison in Massachusetts. That prison is probably where Hernandez will end up some day. I was working a summer job as a domestic worker in the kitchen at the Big House, as it was known back then. The stories I could tell, but won’t, save for one, to keep this short. There was a charismatic inmate working in the staff dining room there at the time. He was probably in his late twenties. Man, could he make me and the rest of my lilly white, young, middle class co-workers laugh with the jokes or stories he’d tell. He was incredibly amiable and always had a smile on his face. Just an upbeat, normal guy who I surmised was in prison for something “harmless” like robbing a bank or stealing a car. Then one day towards the end of the summer one of us, I can’t remember who, asked him why he was in prison. In great detail he told of how he’d stabbed a motel security guard through the heart with a screw driver and threw him off the second floor balcony for having the audacity to ask him to discontinue the raucous party noises coming from his room.

    I’m no psychologist, but I’ll pretend to be one here, if you’ll indulge me. You can’t pick out a sociopath easily. They are incredibly intelligent and know all the right things to say to people. They learn the right things to say, and the right way to act, by watching and imitating other people. They are the smoothest talkers and sometimes the most likable people in a room. The only way to truly spot them is to look into their eyes. Their eyes are vacant, like a shark’s eyes. I think I have met a few since I was 16 years old.

    I can’t fault Mr. Branch for thinking Hernandez was a great guy. Mt. Branch was always a breath of fresh air on the Pats. A more respectful person in football I’ve never heard in an interview. I wish every member of the Patriots had Mr. Branch’s character as I know it, from a distance.

    Hernandez? It appears he had everyone fooled. If you have a chance to watch his arraignment, study his face and eyes. He didn’t know how to act, though several times he adjusts his facial expressions to feign concern or interest; he apparently had never had a chance to study up close someone being arraigned for first degree murder, so he just didn’t know how to act. Listen to his drivel after signing his $40 million contract last August 2012. Just one month earlier it seems he killed two people in a hail of bullets at a traffic stop, but he said all the right things in his post contract interviews. There was just no way to tell at the time that he would go on to become the NFL’s most prolific serial killer and most prolific attempted murderer.

    So give Mr. Branch a break. I’m sure that this whole mess is just unfathomable to him and to most of his former teammates, coaches, and fans.

  66. dumbhobby says: Jun 30, 2013 11:34 PM

    Ah, it’s entertaining to see people think that reality is fake. The guy is a cold ass killer. Get over it.

  67. bennyb82 says: Jul 1, 2013 12:36 AM

    I guess this means every time we hear something arrest-related, we are going to see a hundred posts claiming Branch is “shocked” and the player is a “great guy!!”

  68. johnnyquisp says: Jul 1, 2013 3:04 AM

    “I love him to death” may not have been the best choice of words.

  69. relggigeht says: Jul 1, 2013 6:50 AM

    Spy Gate & Murder

  70. loubearkane says: Jul 1, 2013 9:10 AM

    There’s always someone that has to say something for “shock value”

  71. mazblast says: Jul 1, 2013 12:13 PM

    tfbuckfutter says: Jun 30, 2013 2:15 PM

    I actually appreciate Branch’s candor.

    I have friends who are involved in things I definitely wouldn’t involve myself in, and I wish they didn’t involve themselves in…..but I can really only judge them on my personal interactions with them, and they have always been good, loyal friends to me.

    Until I know they are hurting others, I can’t judge them outside of our friendship. However, if they do harm others, I hope they are punished.

    So I really understand where Branch is coming from.
    ——————————
    And sometimes when we know our “friends” are involved in hurting others, we willfully turn a blind eye to it because they are our “friends”.

  72. emosnar says: Jul 1, 2013 1:56 PM

    Man sounds like there was a 5th person in the car… maybe the trunk.

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