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Rob Gronkowski has always been hesitant to speak publicly about Aaron Hernandez, his former New England Patriots teammate who was convicted of murder in 2015. In an interview on “CBS This Morning” in 2013, Gronkowski nearly walked off the set after being repeatedly asked about him.
Years later, when asked about it on the “10 Questions with Kyle Brandt” podcast, Gronkowski finally opened up about his experience with Hernandez and the situation that followed the murder investigation.
“Aaron was a great player,” Gronkowski said. “He was a great football player. But … I get questions like that all the time, about him and everything. And, with everything going on, I was definitely shook when I heard that.”
Hernandez was first named as a suspect in the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in June 2013, a year after he had signed a five-year contract extension with the Patriots. After his arrest, New England released him, and Bill Belichick reportedly banned the team from using his name in the locker room.
In his playing days, he and Gronkowski formed arguably the most dominant tight end duo in the NFL. In a letter Hernandez wrote from prison, he said he had “mad love” for Gronkowski and called him the “best TE to ever walk on the football field.”
“Being a teammate and everything … you really don’t see that,” Gronkowski said. “You’re not really looking into players like that’s who they are, or that’s what they’re doing. You know, just overall I just try to keep it simple and light. He was a great football player, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell on April 19, 2017. The cause of death was ruled as a suicide.
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