HARTFORD (CBS Connecticut/AP) — A new report claims that former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez surrounded himself with gang members and abused drugs.
Rolling Stone magazine reports the former Pro Bowler was a “heavy user of angel dust” and carried a gun around him at all times over the past year because the drug made him paranoid. Hernandez, though, never tested positive for drugs during his brief NFL career.
The magazine claims that Hernandez “surrounded himself with a cohort of gangsters,” cutting himself off from family and teammates. Hernandez’s tattoos were even checked for any gang-related signs, but none were reportedly found.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was apparently fed up with Hernandez’s “thug-life stunts,” that he was ready to cut the tight end. Patriots cut Hernandez after he was arrested on June 26 for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park about a mile from the ex-player’s North Attleborough, Mass., home.
Rolling Stone also details that crimes allegedly committed by Hernandez during his University of Florida days were covered-up by then-coach Urban Meyer. The magazine claims Meyer helped to cover up failed drug tests and also incidents of an assault and drive-by shooting outside a bar.
Hernandez is currently behind bars after being charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lloyd, a friend whose body was found June 17 near Hernandez’s house.
Hernandez pleaded guilty and he is being held without bail.
The NFL Players Association has filed a grievance to help Hernandez collect an $82,000 workout bonus.
Hernandez’s contract provided for him to receive that amount if he participated in 90 percent of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts.
“On behalf of all players, it is our responsibility to protect the rights in the collective bargaining agreement,” the union said in a statement. “We are not tone-deaf to what the allegations are in this case, but for the benefit of all players, there are important precedents here we must protect.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft indicated he disagreed.
“It’s simple,” he said Tuesday. “You can look at our history. We honor all our contracts and we expect the people who sign them to honor their part of the contract.”
Asked if he felt Hernandez didn’t do that, Kraft said, “We honor our contracts and we expect the people on the other side to do the same.”
Last year, Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension through the 2018 season. The contract, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, includes an $82,000 bonus if Hernandez “successfully completes” at least 90 percent the possible offseason workouts at the team’s facility. The bonus would have been paid “on or about” Aug. 1.
The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement allows teams to recoup bonus money when a player is incarcerated. The Patriots cut Hernandez before the bonus, if earned, was due.
Prosecutors say Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd’s killing because he was upset at him for talking to people Hernandez had problems with at a nightclub days earlier.
Kraft said that since he bought the Patriots before the 1994 season, “we’ve had probably over 2,000 people playing here and I think, by and large, we’ve done a pretty good job. If you look at the last four years I don’t think we had any off-field incidents. So we’re as diligent as we can be.
“We know what we want to achieve, yet, when people go outside this building, it’s like those of you who have children,” Kraft told reporters. “Once they get to a certain age, you can’t control all their activities.”
He also said that “every year in all of our businesses, we recalibrate what we are doing to make sure we’re staying fresh and on top of things, and once you stop doing that, you’ll perish.”
The NFL, Kraft said, is “the most competitive business I’ve ever been involved in and so we have reviewed everything. We’ve been very diligent (in) the way we look at things and we’ll try to do things as best as we can to achieve the results we want.”
The Patriots are “a microcosm of the world,” he said. “All kinds of things are going to happen. We do our best to hope that (players) understand they’re in a unique place. Playing in the NFL is a privilege and we hope they’re wise and mature enough to make sure they know how to take advantage of that.”
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)