Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Patriots moving forward: Belichick

Coach breaks silence on Hernandez arrest

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick broke his silence Wednesday on the arrest of Aaron Hernandez, saying the club will learn from "this terrible experience" and it's time to "move forward."

Four weeks after the former Patriots tight end was charged with murder and cut by the team, Belichick addressed the issue during a 22-minute news conference one day before the team opens training camp.

He expressed sympathy for the family of shooting victim Odin Lloyd, said the in-depth process of studying a player's background is "far from perfect" but it wouldn't be "overhauled," and took responsibility for bringing people to the team.

"The hundreds of players we've had through this program in the last 14 years, there's been a lot of good ones, a lot of real good ones," Belichick said. "We'll try to do a good job in bringing people into this organization in the future and try to learn from the mistakes that we've made along the way, of which there have been plenty."

At times, Belichick glanced down at notes. He declined to answer questions about people involved in the legal case, saying he had been advised not to.

His relationship with team owner Robert Kraft continues to strengthen, he said.

Kraft has said he was "duped" by Hernandez. When Belichick was asked if he also had been "duped," he said he couldn't comment.

"I'm not trying to make this story disappear, but I respect the judicial process and have been advised not to comment on ongoing legal proceedings. I'm advising our players to do the same things," he said. "Ultimately, the judge or the jury will determine the accountability."

Quarterback Tom Brady and the team's other five captains are scheduled to speak with reporters today when training camp opens. The first practice is set for Friday.

The Patriots are eager to move on quickly from the Hernandez situation and any stain it leaves on the image of a team that has won three of its five Super Bowls in Belichick's 13 years as coach. Belichick usually doesn't address the media at training camp until it's begun.

"My comments are certainly not in proportion to the unfortunate and sad situation that we have here, but I've been advised to address the subject once, and it's time for the New England Patriots to move forward," he said. "Moving forward consists of what it's always been here -- to build a winning football team, to be a strong pillar in the community and be a team that our fans can be proud of."

Asked if the Patriots will focus more on off-the-field issues when scouting college players, he said, "We have a process in place. Can it be improved? Can it be modified? It possibly can. We'll certainly look at it."

-- The Associated Press

grand jury pondering evidence D2

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2013 D1

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