- Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In his first comments since Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick expressed remorse Wednesday, saying that he was "shocked and disappointed" that one of his players was connected to a situation like this.
"It's a sad day. It's really a sad day on so many levels," Belichick said in his opening remarks. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim. I extend my sympathy to everyone who has been impacted. A young man [Odin Lloyd] lost his life and his family has suffered a tragic loss. There is no way to understate that."
Belichick's opening remarks lasted about seven minutes. The news conference, which began at 1:45 p.m. ET, was held in the team's press box at Gillette Stadium and was heavily attended, with more than 20 cameras set up in the back and others on the side. About 80 reporters were present.
"Personally, I'm challenged by decisions that affect the team on a daily basis, and I'm not perfect on that either, but I always try to do what I think is best for the football team," he said.
Belichick said that he was out of the country when he learned of the criminal investigation regarding Hernandez.
"Having someone in your organization that is involved in a murder investigation is a terrible thing. After consultation with ownership, we acted swiftly and decisively," he said.
"[Owner] Robert [Kraft] and his family and I, since I got here in 2000, have always emphasized the need for our team and our players and our organization to represent the community the right way, both on and off the field. We've worked very hard together over the past 14 years to put together a winning team that is a pillar in the community. I agree 100 percent with that, and the comments Robert has already made on the situation, I stand behind those as well."
As Kraft said in his first comments on Hernandez earlier this month, Belichick said the team would examine the way it evaluates players. He added that the team does extensive research on a player's family situation, where he grew up, his lifestyle, work ethic and maturity, among other things.
"We'll learn from this terrible experience," Belichick said. "We'll become a better team from the lessons that we've learned. We have so many players on this team that work hard, that do the right thing, that set a great example of being a professional and being a solid representative of this team and the community."
After making an opening statement, Belichick said he would not answer further questions on the matter.
"I respect the judicial process and have been advised not to comment on ongoing legal proceedings, and I am advising our players to do the same," he said.
Belichick's comments come two days before the Patriots are scheduled to open training camp and a day before quarterback Tom Brady, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and the team's other captains are scheduled to address reporters.
Brady went on the record on Hernandez for the first time Tuesday, telling Sports Illustrated's TheMMQB.com that he has "moved on" from Hernandez and is "focusing on the great teammates I have."
Hernandez, who is being held without bail, was in court Wednesday for what was supposed to be a probable cause hearing, but prosecutors asked for and received more time to present evidence against the tight end to a grand jury.
The judge rescheduled the probable cause hearing for Aug. 22.
In his first comments since Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder, Patriots coach Bill Belichick expressed remorse, saying it was a “sad, sad day” and that he was “shocked and disappointed” that one of his players was connected to a situation like this.