FOXBORO, MA--Speaking publicly for the first time about the murder charges facing former tight end Aaron Hernandez, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick emphasized that pathological wrongdoing and a lack of empathy for others were not the kind of values he hoped to instill in his program, and expressed confusion as to where Hernandez could have formed such amoral habits.
"I have no idea where this kind of callous disregard for the status quo and societal order comes from," a stone-faced Belichick told reporters Thursday. "If there's one thing I have always tried to make my players understand, it's that fair play and respect for your fellow man are the pillars by which one builds a great football team."
The three-time Super Bowl champion and record-holder of the largest fine against a head coach in N.F.L. history for his role in the Spygate controversy stated that he felt "especially betrayed" by Hernandez's apparent refusal to accept his humble and law-abiding worldview.
"Aaron's behavior has hurt the whole community, but I feel especially stung," said the man who fled Super Bowl XLII with one play to go rather than watch his team lose. "You try to impart a sense of civic duty on a young man, and you get this kind of payback."
"I sometimes wonder if anybody really cares about doing the right thing anymore," sighed Belichick, whose first marriage ended due his infidelities.
"I've always told my boys that winning isn't everything, and the only real victories in life are the ones you gain through hard work and sportsmanship. 'For what does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' That's from the Bible. I issue one with every playbook, so our boys don't lose sight of what's really important in this world," said Belichick as the smell of burning phosphorus began to fill the room, marking an abrupt end to the press conference.
Patriots players echoed Belichick's words. "We're all pretty shaken by what happened to [Hernandez]," said cornerback and recent DUI-arrestee Alfonzo Dennard. "I thought fear and respect for the law were the things every Patriot player took to heart. Maybe I was wrong."
Former Patriots safety, current N.B.C. football analyst, and three-time winner of the "dirtiest player in the league" poll Rodney Harrison expressed similar sentiments Thursday. "Do unto others is the centerpiece of the Patriot Way. The idea that somebody who worked under coach [Belichick] would even think of such misbehavior, let alone actually have the gall to carry it out is almost unfathomable. It makes me wonder if professional football is the best vehicle for promoting moral behavior."