Patriots' ProShop Exchanges About 1,200 Hernandez Jerseys On First Day Of Swap Offer
The Patriots' ProShop at Gillette Stadium on Saturday "exchanged nearly 1,200 jerseys" of former TE Aaron Hernandez for another player on the team's roster, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN BOSTON. Patriots staff checked the "authenticity of the Hernandez jerseys before they were placed in a large bin." The team will "make an effort to recycle the jersey material, but will not donate the jerseys to a foreign country." The most popular jersey that fans picked in the first hour was DT Vince Wilfork's No. 75, followed by QB Tom Brady's No. 12. A notice in the store said that only jerseys of Wilfork, Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski "were available in authentic, women's and youth styles." ProShop staff said that a "limited amount of Tim Tebow jerseys were available, but they moved quickly" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 7/7). In Boston, Alyssa Botelho reported of the 1,200 jerseys exchanged Saturday, "nearly 300 were youth jerseys." Other popular jersey choices aside from Wilfork, Brady and Tebow included DE Chandler Jones and RB Stevan Ridley. The line was "so long Saturday that the ProShop opened at 9:30 a.m., a half hour early, to accommodate the demand and relieve waiting fans from the morning heat" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/7). Jerseys retail for $249, $99 and $69, and calculating the "average cost of one jersey to be $117 ... and multiplying by 1,200 would mean roughly $166,800 worth of jerseys were exchanged" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 7/6). In Boston, Peter Gelzinis wrote what the Patriots did with the jersey exchange was "perform a kind of mass exorcism for all those fans who were so enthralled by Aaron Hernandez that they once wanted to wear his name and number on their backs" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/7). Meanwhile, in Hartford, Paul Doyle reported fans wearing a No. 81 Hernandez jersey to a Patriots game this season "won't be barred from Gillette Stadium" (HARTFORD COURANT, 7/7).
HERNANDEZ KEPT WORK, PRIVATE LIFE SEPARATE: In Boston, Ben Volin cited a source as saying that Hernandez "did everything Bill Belichick asked of him football-wise" while he was on the team. However, when it "came to Hernandez’s off-field activities, he would tune out and occasionally become angry when a coach or employee suggested he stop hanging out with some of his old friends from Connecticut." The Patriots "knew he was hanging out with unsavory people," but Volin asked how much can a team "really dictate what a player does off the field?" A former operations exec for NFL teams said, "Teams don’t follow their players around or anything like that. Teams focus on giving guys the information and tools to protect themselves" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/7). Also in Boston, Christopher Gasper wrote, "If the Patriots are guilty of anything it was letting Hernandez use the misguided belief that their building and their uniforms somehow build character or instill it where it doesn’t exist against them." They "became intoxicated by this myth, the idea of the Patriots being more than a football team, but a way of life." The "flogging of the Patriots for not knowing they had an alleged murderer in their midst has been unfair." Hernandez is "very bright, and he duped the Patriots -- hard" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/7).
PATS EXECS STILL KEEPING QUIET: In Boston, Eric Wilbur reported no member of the Patriots organization has "yet to speak about the matter publicly and shed some light on how an organization that preaches righteousness swung and missed." It is "only logical to wonder how much the Patriots knew, and how much they ignored." The more we "learn about Hernandez’s past, the more the Patriots owe us all an explanation." Wilbur wrote the future "won’t include a Patriots apology or admittance of fault," as that is "not the Patriot Way, of course." Wilbur: "Then again, as we’re rapidly discovering, the Patriots Way is a bogus load of tripe. And we continue to wait, as an exposed institution shows its true, cowardly colors" (BOSTON.com, 7/3). But St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell asked, “Didn’t we essentially hear from Robert Kraft ... when they opened the doors to the stadium shop and said if you have an Aaron Hernandez jersey you can turn it in and replace it and we’ll destroy the Hernandez jerseys? They’re washing their hands of him like he didn’t exist.” N.Y. Times columnist William Rhoden said, “This entire hypocrisy of this franchise is amazing. Here’s a franchise who’s whole brand is built on the Patriot Way” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN2, 7/7). Meanwhile, in L.A., Sam Farmer noted Hernandez' arrest has "sparked a debate within the NFL: When is a risky pick too risky?" Fox' Jimmy Johnson said, "Without question, the owners are talking to their general managers as soon as this happened, saying, 'Let's make sure this doesn't happen to us.'" But NBC's Tony Dungy said, "You're going to get enough people to overlook it. ... Talent is the overriding factor in the NFL. Has been for a long time" (L.A. TIMES, 7/7).
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