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Hernandez’s barber could be a key witness in Lloyd murder case

Hernandez AP

With prosecutors concluding that Carlos Ortiz won’t be a credible source of evidence and few if any in former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s inner circle cooperating, it could be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez killed Odin Lloyd last June.

As explained by FOX 25 in Boston, that could make Hernandez’s barber a central figure in the eventual trial.

Robby Olivares has testified before the grand jury that indicted Hernandez, identifying the apartment Hernandez maintained in addition to his large home in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Per FOX 25, Olivares may have information regarding the events of June 14 at the Rumor nightclub in Boston, where something said or done by Lloyd allegedly prompted Hernandez to conclude Lloyd needed to be silenced.

Olivares visited Hernandez’s home and cut his hair two days before Hernandez was arrested for murdering Lloyd.  While details remain scant, Olivares could emerge as someone who knows things about the murder — and who may be willing to share that information in court.

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Mike Williams charged with minor damage to woman’s door

Mike Williams AP

There are a few more details regarding the misdemeanor charges against Buccaneers Mike Williams, but nothing particularly salacious.

According to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune, Williams’ upcoming court date stems from a Dec. 13 incident in which he damaged a woman’s door.

Court documents filed with Hillsborough County said Williams “without being authorized, licensed or invited, willfully enter[ed] or remain[ed] in the property of Gabrielle Edwards.”

The report also said Williams “did willfully or maliciously injure or damage real or personal property belonging to Edwards, resulting in damage of $200 or less.”

Williams faces misdemeanor trespass and criminal mischief charges. It’s not exactly Aaron Hernandez (or even Kellen Winslow in the Target parking lot), but it’s also not the kind of first impression Williams wanted to make on a new coach and a new General Manager.

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Kraft believes Patriots would provide “most supportive system” for Michael Sam

Kraft Getty Images

Last May, after NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d welcome gay players to the Patriots.

Now that an incoming rookie has come out as gay, Kraft has reiterated — and elaborated on — his position.

We’re about winning,” Kraft said, via the Boston Herald.  “And anyone who can come in here and help us win, I personally don’t care what their ethnic background is, their racial background, the gender preference.  If they can help us win, and they’re about team first, then I’m happy to have him here.”

Kraft, who said he previously has talked to coach Bill Belichick about adding an openly gay player, also thinks that being with the Patriots would help Sam.

“If a player were gay and came into this locker room, it would be the most supportive system,” Kraft said.  “He’d gain strength by being in here.  And it wouldn’t be divisive and he’d make friends for life and they could help him win. . . .

“I really believe that.  And it was interesting to me that this young man announced to his teammates that he was gay before the season started.  And they had a 12-2 record, they were in the SEC championship game, like us being in the AFC championship game, and they lost to Auburn and beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.

“And he was co-defensive player of the year in the SEC.  And that was after full disclosure.  And that makes me happy. . . .  I think it’s good for America.”

NFL teams ultimately are looking for what’s good for them.  The Patriots want to win, and they know how to absorb potential distractions without distractions occurring.  From drafting Ryan Mallett (a much-scrutinized rookie three years ago) to adding Tim Tebow (whose presence wasn’t a major issue last offseason) to dealing with the aftermath of the Aaron Hernandez arrest, the Patriots know how to navigate waters that would capsize other NFL organizations.

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Patriots face a big decision with Talib

New England Patriots v Houston Texans Getty Images

Last year, Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib hit the open market.  And he ultimately returned to New England on a one-year, $5 million deal.

Next month, that contract expires.  And Talib once again will become a free agent.

Per a league source, early indications are that the market will be more robust for Talib in 2014 than it was a year ago.  Which will require the Patriots to step up, if they want to keep him.

It’s unclear whether that will happen.  Owner Robert Kraft recently addressed the situation on 98.5 The Sports Hub from Radio Row in New York.

“Well, we want to retain all the good players we can retain,” Kraft said, via Tom Curran of CSN New England.  “It’s not like we have unlimited funding so . . . He wasn’t on the field a lot of the time since he’s been with us. It’s a balance of us balancing all that out and what is he worth.  I think he’s happy here and would like to be here and we’re happy with him and we’d like to have him here and now it’s just about doing business.”

Last year, Talib appeared in 13 regular-season games.  And after he exited the AFC title game following a hit from Broncos receiver Wes Welker that prompted an uncharacteristic outburst from coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots’ defense simply couldn’t keep up with the Denver offense.

Talib’s situation presents a separate concern.  Although he has been well behaved since being traded to New England in 2012, Talib has a history of off-field incidents that could make the team less inclined to make a long-term investment, given the Aaron Hernandez fiasco.  If they do — and if Talib reverts to his past behavior — the Patriots will look even more foolish for trusting a guy with a bad track record.

Other teams may be willing to take that risk, especially since other teams didn’t pay Aaron Hernandez big money less than a year before he allegedly committed murder.

The Pats have an exclusive opportunity through March 8 to negotiate with Talib.  As of March 11, he hits the market.

The reality is that, by if not before the Scouting Combine, Talib will have an idea as to what will be behind Door No. 2 as of March 11, if he chooses not to accept whatever the Pats put behind Door No. 1.

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Judge blocks prosecution’s attempt to get Hernandez’s jailhouse conversations

Hernandez AP

The murder case against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez could be crumbling.

With prosecutors already deciding to punt on supposed star witness Carlos Ortiz, a judge has now blocked an attempt to obtain recordings of Hernandez’s conversations from jail.

According to the Associated Press, the judge said the prosecution didn’t make a sufficient case to obtain the communications, which allegedly contain “coded messages” regarding Lloyd’s murder.  Defense counsel call it a fishing expedition.

It’s a bit of a surprise — given the whole “anything you say can and will be used against you” thing — that Hernandez has any privacy at all regarding things he has said in jail.

Is it a fishing expedition?  Sure.  Should the prosecutors be entitled to fish if the end result is pursuing justice for Odin Lloyd?  Hell, yes.

Ultimately, Hernandez is protected by the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  If Hernandez has said anything in custody that helps remove the doubt, prosecutors should be entitled to use it.

But they can’t use it until they know it exists.  They should be allowed to find out whether it exists.

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Man allegedly shot by Hernandez gets shot again

Bradley AP

Tony Soprano.  Walter White.  Aaron Hernandez.

Guilty or innocent of murder and other alleged misdeeds, Hernandez could be the anti-hero of a compelling TV series in which ancillary cast members routinely gets involved in various predicaments.  Like shootings.

The latest twist involves a man Hernandez allegedly shot in Florida last year.  Via the Associated Press, Alexander Bradley was shot multiple times in the right thigh on Sunday night in Hartford, Connecticut.  Bradley then allegedly returned fire outside the Vevo Lounge Bar & Grill.

“Evidence revealed there was a disturbance in the club that was pushed outside by staff,” Lt. Brian Foley said, via the AP.  “At this point, Bradley was shot.  Bradley went to a vehicle, got a gun, then shot up the front of the club.”

Some will suspect that Bradley was targeted by associates of Hernandez, given that Bradley has sued Hernandez for the shooting that happened last year — and that Hernandez has performed the legal equivalent of crying “uncle” by invoking the Fifth Amendment in response to the suit.  If Bradley isn’t, you know, alive, he can’t testify against Hernandez in that case, or in any others.

For now, Bradley is expected to survive.  It’ll be interesting to see what he says about who shot him this time.  If he’s willing to say anything about it at all.

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Prosecutors give up on Carlos Ortiz as witness against Hernandez

Ortiz AP

The case against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez may not be as strong as once believed.

Carlos Ortiz, once believed to be the star witness against Hernandez in the murder of Odin Lloyd based on the extent to which information apparently obtained from him was used to support search warrants and arrest warrants, will now not be called as a witness at all.  Via the Taunton (Mass.) Daily Gazette, paperwork filed Friday in court indicates that prosecutors view Ortiz as “completely unreliable” based on the fact that his once-damning story has dramatically changed.

As a result, prosecutors could now be attempting the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass.

Via the Associated Press, prosecutors want to review Hernandez’s phone conversations in search of “coded messages” that could show Hernandez was talking about the murder of Odin Lloyd with his fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, and/or his cousin, Tanya Singleton.

Prosecutors contend Hernandez discussed Lloyd’s murder in cryptic fashion.  Topics allegedly included Hernandez’s “belief about his criminal liability” and the “extent of his control over persons charged as accessories.”

Even if that’s what happened, it could be a challenge to use “I took care of that thing”-style remarks to show guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  But that may be all they have, if neither Ortiz nor Ernest Wallace, the two men allegedly in the car with Hernandez and Lloyd before Lloyd was shot to death, will be testifying against Hernandez.

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Jimmy Graham isn’t “keen” on the franchise tag

Graham AP

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has spent the last couple of years not complaining at all about the team’s failure to reward his stellar play with a long-term extension.  Even as players like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, drafted the same year as Graham, received their rewards after only two seasons, Graham didn’t say a word.

With his rookie contract completed and the franchise tag looming, Graham has broken his silence.

I’m not keen on the franchise tag,” Graham recently told NFL Network, via  “That would be really unfortunate, but that is really all I have to say about that one.”

Graham shouldn’t be surprised.  Two years ago, the Saints used the franchise tag on franchise quarterback Drew Brees, declining to sign him to a long-term deal until only days before the July deadline for working out a multi-year contract.

Graham has played it out this far, and barring the outcome of the Pro Bowl he has managed to make it to free agency at full health.  He simply needs to let his agent navigate the process, fighting the tight end version of the tag if need be, and remain patient.

Unless Graham wants to leave — and some think there’s a chance another team may be willing to give up a pair of first-round picks to sign him away from the Saints — there’s no reason to get antsy now, not after playing two full seasons since the moment the 2010 rookie became eligible for a new contract he’s yet to get.

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Tom Brady: We had plenty there yesterday

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick had plenty to say about the early collision between former Patriots receiver Wes Welker and current Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib in the first quarter of Sunday’s 26-16 Broncos win.

Belichick castigated Welker for laying out Talib, but quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t willing to vilify his former teammate on Monday. Brady said he “didn’t really see the play” and hasn’t watched any replays since the contest, but Brady did have a bit more to say when asked if he might like to have a big-play receiver on the outside of the offense.

Brady certainly sounds open to the idea, but was careful not to say anything negative about Julian Edelman, Austin Collie or Danny Amendola while pointing out that the Patriots missed chances to do more on offense.

“Yeah, I had Randy Moss and he was pretty good at that,” Brady said on WEEI, via the Boston Herald. “Those are really unique players and we have a very good skill set of receivers in Julian, Austin played yesterday, Danny played his heart out. We had plenty there yesterday, we just couldn’t do enough early in the game to put pressure on the team to play from behind. And we got behind and it was just too much to dig ourselves out of a hole. I’m proud of the way we fought. Our guys played with a lot of toughness and a lot of resiliency. All the way up to the end we fought. That’s really the mark of coach Belichick and what he talks about.”

Two of the biggest misses came when Brady couldn’t find the range on deep throws to Edelman and Collie, with the Edelman miss possibly costing the Patriots six points in the first half because the receiver was behind the Denver defense.

The Patriots offense certainly missed the dimension that Moss brought to the team years ago, to say nothing of what Rob Gronkowski did when healthy and what Aaron Hernandez did before he was a guest of the state. As much as players like that would help, failure to execute across the offense was a bigger issue in Sunday’s loss because, as Brady said, there were opportunities for the Patriots to change the way things played out on the field.

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Broncos need to load up against the run

Manning Getty Images

As Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio attempts to reverse an 0-7 lifetime drought against the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, Del Rio’s best chance to win may be to force Brady to beat him again.

Ludicrous as it sounds, the Broncos’ defense must pick a poison in Sunday’s AFC title game.  It can be slow death at the hands of a power running game, or a quicker demise by loading up against the run and giving the Pats no option but to throw.

Bill Belichick has employed for years a brilliantly simple defensive philosophy:  Take away what the other team does best.  Right now, the best thing that Patriots are doing is running the ball.  Against a team like the Broncos, who have a high-powered offense that can at any given moment put the pedal to the metal and points on the scoreboard, running the ball well means longer drives and fewer opportunities for Denver possessions.

So Del Rio and company will need to force the issue, drawing extra men into the box, hoping that the players will be able to execute well enough to get to the ball carriers quickly and make tackles for short gains or none at all, and daring Brady to throw to a collection of weapons that doesn’t include Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, or Wes Welker.

With Peyton Manning running the offense, the Broncos would be able to respond to the scoring drives that may result from making Brady pass.  But the drives will be shorter and the Denver defense won’t be slowly and methodically demoralized by LeGarrette Blount, who has more than 350 rushing yards in his last two games and eight rushing touchdowns in his last three.

If that’s what the Broncos do, the stage will be set for a back-and-forth, up-and-down shootout that will hinge on which defense can make the most stops and/or who makes the mistake at the worst possible time.

Still, that may be the best way for the Broncos to win.  Otherwise, the man who served as the winning defensive coordinator in Super Bowl XXV will do what the Giants did to the Bills nearly 23 years ago — pound the rock, control the clock, and make Peyton Manning hold his, um, horses.

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Robert Kraft: This Patriots team already “super-special”

Robert Kraft, George H. W. Bush AP

Patriots owner Robert Kraft has more to choose from than others when it comes to favorite memories.

But even before this current season is over, Kraft said the current version of his team is among his favorites.

While the Patriots haven’t added to the three Super Bowl trophies, they’ve gotten to the AFC Championship game in a year which included the murder arrest of tight end Aaron Hernandez, and a seemingly endless parade of injuries to key players.

“We’ve had some wonderful experiences and some wonderful teams, but this team really is super-special,” Kraft said, via Christopher Gasper of the Boston Globe. “When you go through the locker room, you can get a feeling for the chemistry, how guys feel about one and another, the camaraderie.

“This team really reminds me of that 2001 team, a lot of players who weren’t household names, but they bonded together. They weren’t the best team on paper. But it’s not the team with the most talent, but rather the team that has the players who play the best together as a team and make the fewest mistakes.”

In addition to the Hernandez ugliness, the Patriots have lost six starters to injured reserves, including All-Pros Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Rob Gronkowski.

“There are so many things that happened in the offseason that were unfortunate and that we didn’t want or plan for,” Kraft said. “It’s another reason I love this team.”

Tomorrow night in Denver, we’ll find out of he has another reason.

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Hernandez can’t watch Pats in jail

aaron-hernandez-getty-t Getty Images

As the Patriots prepare to finish their first season since 2010 without tight end Aaron Hernandez by playing in the AFC title game, the accused murderer (and suspect in two other killings) won’t be permitted to spectate.

He’s not allowed to watch any TV,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said Friday, via the Associated Press.  “As far as finding it out, if they hear an officer talking about it, they might find out that way.  He could probably hear about it if some other inmate were to call home and he were to yell out.”

Hernandez remains in a “special management” classification, which keeps him in his cell 21 hours per day.  When he’s not in his cell, Hernandez can’t interact with other inmates.

The Patriots have adapted very well to the absence of Hernandez, who was with the team throughout offseason workouts.  His arrest came in the middle of June, after the voluntary program ended.

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Search warrant confirms Hernandez is a suspect in July 2012 murders

Hernandez AP

Not long after former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez found himself accused of killing Odin Lloyd in June 2013, Hernandez’s name surfaced in connection with an unsolved double murder from eleven months earlier.

If it wasn’t already clear that Hernandez is a suspect in the shooting deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu (and it should have been), it now is.  Via the Associated Press, a search warrant released Thursday confirms that Hernandez is the suspected shooter.

The warrant and accompanying affidavit initially were executed on June 28, less than two weeks after Lloyd was killed in an industrial park close to Hernandez’s home in Massachusetts.

Another recently-released warrant suggests that Hernandez may have killed Lloyd to prevent him from spilling the beans on Hernandez’s involvement in the July 2012 shootings.

Hernandez has been held without bail since June on charges of murdering Lloyd.  No trial date has been set.

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Warrant suggests Hernandez killed Lloyd to cover up double murder

Hernandez Reuters

Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez continues to await trial on charges that he murdered Odin Lloyd in June 2013.  And he continues to be a suspect in a double murder that occurred 11 months earlier.

According to the Hartford Courant and other publications, a search warrant executed in connection with the July 2012 murders of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado reconfirms that Hernandez is a suspect in the case.

The warrant explains that Sharif Hashem, a security supervisor at a Boston night club, advised police that the murders of Lloyd and Abreu/Furtado could be related, and that a patron of the club “accidentally spilled the beans in front of me.”

Lloyd and Hernandez attended the club in question two days before Lloyd was killed.

The information supplies a clear motive for Hernandez’s alleged killing of Lloyd.  If Hernandez feared Lloyd would “spill the beans” on Hernandez, Hernandez had a reason (warped and misguided as it may have been) to permanently silence Lloyd.

If it can be proven that Hernandez killed Lloyd to prevent Lloyd from giving evidence and testimony against Hernandez in the prior murders, the federal government could get involved — and the death penalty could be in play.

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New England Boat Show has an eyebrow-raising appearance scheduled

Former NFL player Hernandez, accused of killing Lloyd, appears in court for a motion hearing in Attleborough Reuters

Who says there’s nothing to do after football season ends?

Twenty days after Super Bowl XLVIII, the New England Boat Show opens.  Running from February 22 through March 2, the event features, well, boats.  And appearances by athletes.

As a loyal PFT reader has pointed out, the GMC booth promises to produce a quartet of Patriots.

Including former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

The specific dates associated with Hernandez (Saturday, February 23) and the other three Patriots suggests that the link for the 2014 show still lists the 2013 appearances. Hernandez apparently canceled his appearance on February 21 “for personal reasons.”

His 2014 appearance will likely be canceled, too.

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Odin Lloyd’s family files wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez

Hernandez AP

Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has enough legal entanglements to keep a mid-size law firm fully employed.  He’s now got another one.

According to the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News, the family of Odin Lloyd has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez.  Lloyd allegedly was killed by Hernandez in June 2013.

While Hernandez enjoys constitutional protections like the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to the question of whether he’ll be imprisoned for most if not all of the rest of his life for killing Lloyd, civil cases turn on the much lower legal standard known as “preponderance of the evidence.”

A generation ago, O.J. Simpson walked away from murder charges but found himself liable for a $33.5 million civil verdict.  Hernandez could see the same outcome, with an acquittal in criminal court and an eight-figure judgment in civil court.

The question now will be the timing of the civil litigation.  In most situations, the lawsuit will be put on hold until after the criminal case ends, since at that point the defendant wouldn’t be able to rely on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.  In this case, there may be no money left by the time a jury decides Hernandez’s fate.

Hernandez surely still has ample assets, and he’s seeking $3.25 million in earned but unpaid signing bonus from the Patriots and another $2.96 million in guaranteed pay from the team.  Lloyd’s family — along with the families of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado — should move aggressively on all of Hernandez’s available property before the money ends up being consumed by his legal bills.

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Report: Mike Pouncey was in Boston on Wednesday

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The Patriots are headed to Miami for a date with the Dolphins this weekend, but one member of the Dolphins reportedly spent Wednesday in Boston instead of preparing for the game.

Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that center Mike Pouncey was in Boston yesterday, presumably for matters related to the subpoena he received to offer testimony to a grand jury investigating weapons charges against former Patriots tight end (and Pouncey’s University of Florida teammate) Aaron Hernandez.

The team would not offer any details about Pouncey’s whereabouts, listing him as a non-participant in Wednesday’s practice for non-football reasons. The Dolphins do not practice Thursday and Friday will be their final day of on-field preparation for the game against the Patriots.

Per Beasley, Pouncey is expected to play in that game despite the missed practice time on Wednesday.

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Prosecutors allege Hernandez’s fiancee lied 29 times to grand jury

Jenkins AP

Shayanna Jenkins, the girlfriend of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, faces charges of lying to a grand jury investigating the murder of Odin Lloyd.

According to prosecutors, Jenkins lied 29 times.

Via the Boston Globe, prosecutors outlined the various alleged falsehoods in court papers filed in connection with the case.  The alleged untruths include lies regarding conversations with Hernandez on June 18, when he allegedly called from his lawyer’s office and told her to remove items from the house.

She also allegedly lied about why she removed the things, about her lack of knowledge as to what the objects were, and about how she got rid of the objects.

With 29 different swings of the proverbial bat, the prosecution needs to connect only once to get a conviction.  The overriding goal could be to get Hernandez to strike a deal in order to protect the mother of his young child.

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Hernandez invokes Fifth Amendment in Florida shooting case

Hernandez AP

One of Aaron Hernandez’s various legal complications has become somewhat more complicated for the former Patriots tight end.

As explained earlier this week by Wesley Lowery of the Boston Globe, Hernandez has relied on his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination in the civil suit that claims he shot a friend in the face in February 2013.

The use of the Fifth Amendment comes in Hernandez’s formal written response to the civil complaint.  Per Lowery, Hernandez uses the following sentence 13 times:  “Defendant asserts his rights under the Fifth Amendment and, therefore, declines to respond to the allegations.”

Unlike a criminal case, where juries are told that silence cannot be used against a defendant, folks who refuse to testify in a civil case do so at their own financial peril.  If/when the case filed by Alexander Bradley goes to trial, the jury likely will be told that it can draw an adverse inference from Hernandez’s refusal to testify.

In other words, the jury will be entitled to conclude that, by declining to say anything about the situation, Hernandez must have done something.  Combined with the 51-49 “preponderance of the evidence” standard for civil cases, Bradley loses the case only if the jury finds his story to be so incredible that it overcomes Hernandez’s refusal to say, “I didn’t do it.”

The bigger challenge for Bradley will be getting compensated.  Hernandez’s money currently is being devoted to the defense against pending murder charges in Massachusetts, with another potential double-murder charge still lingering.

Bradley may end up having to rely on trying to get his hands on the earned but unpaid bonus money from the Patriots.  But Bradley may have to box out the families of up to three murder victims in order to receive compensation for being shot in the head by the man who currently refuses to say that he didn’t do it.

Hernandez’s willingness to throw in the towel on the civil suit suggests that he legitimately fears prosecution for the shooting in Florida.  As he should.  Especially if he isn’t able or willing to say, “I didn’t do it.”

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Philip Wheeler, Mike Pouncey fined for Week 10 infractions

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It’s been a busy day for posts about Dolphins center Mike Pouncey.

We’ve already covered the illness that left him out of practice on Friday and listed as questionable and the fact that he has yet to testify in front of a Massachusetts grand jury after receiving a subpoena related to the Aaron Hernandez case. Now we’ll move onto a fine that Pouncey received for actions in the Week 10 loss to the Buccaneers.

Pouncey has been fined $7,875 for punching Buccaneers defensive tackle Akeem Spence in the helmet during the game. Pouncey was flagged for unnecessary roughness, but avoided an ejection.

Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler also heard from the league office this week. Wheeler was fined $21,000 for hitting Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon in the head and neck in the fourth quarter. The penalty gave the Bucs a first down and allowed them to eat more clock before punting the ball to the Dolphins with three minutes left to play.

On the Buccaneers side, wide receiver Eric Page was fined $7,875 for an unnecessary hit on Dolphins cornerback R.J. Stanford as a punt rolled out of bounds. Safety Dashon Goldson escaped a suspension earlier this season and he escaped a fine for his unnecessary roughness penalty this week.

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