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July 25, 2013

Belichick, Patriots will learn from Hernandez case

FOXBOROUGH — 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 on Thursday when training camp opens. The first practice is set for Friday.

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