Patriots owner Robert Kraft said earlier this summer that he felt "duped" by Aaron Hernandez, the former New England tight end now sitting in jail awaiting trial after being charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd.
On Tuesday, almost a year to the day after the Pats signed Hernandez to a five-year, $40 contract extension, Kraft spoke about in general terms about the Pats' offseason before getting into specifics.
“Every year there is some kind of surprise that you can’t anticipate and sometimes the difficult things help to bring a team together,” he said, via ESPNBoston.com. “I’m actually pretty excited about this team. They seem to be coming together pretty well. I’m excited about this season and the next few seasons. ...
“In 20 years, we’ve probably had over 2,000 people playing here," Kraft continued. "I think by and large, we’ve done a pretty good job. … We’re as diligent as we can be. We know what we want to achieve, yet when people go outside of this building, it’s like those of you who have children. Once they get to a certain age, you can’t control their activities. …"
Meanwhile, Kraft says the process of evaluating players off-the-field is an ongoing, evolving process.
“Every year, in all of our businesses, we re-calibrate what we’re doing to make sure we’re staying fresh and on top of things," he said. "Once you stop doing that, you’ll perish,” he said. “This is a business that is the most competitive business I’ve ever been involved in. We’ve reviewed everything. We’ve been very diligent in the way we look at things. We’ll try to do things as best as we can to achieve the results we want.”
Still, the Patriots owner says the players are ultimately responsible for what they do away from work.
“In the end, we have a business and a company we’re running here," Kraft said. "We have 61 young men, most of whom are in their early 20s. It’s a microcosm of the world. There’s all kinds of things that are going to happen,” he said. “We do our best to hope that they understand they’re in a unique place. Playing in the NFL is a privilege. We hope that they’re wise and mature enough to make sure they know how to take advantage of that.”