(BOSTON) — Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez missed workouts this spring and got in a domestic dispute with his wife that involved the police, prompting New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick to tell him that he was “one misstep from being cut,” according to this month’s Rolling Stone magazine, which painted a portrait of a young man out of control before his arrest on murder charges.
Hernandez was indicted last week in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a semipro football player and landscaper who frequently partied with the former New England Patriots tight end. Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 6.
The Rolling Stone profile entitled, “Gangster in the Huddle,” portrays Hernandez as a talented but deeply troubled individual who allegedly abused drugs and had become so paranoid he regularly carried a handgun.
Hernandez’s alleged tumultuous lifestyle caused him to miss team training drills and he skipped a training camp for Patriots receivers organized by star quarterback Tom Brady, according to the report.
“According to a source close to Hernandez, he flew to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this past February and confided to Belichick that his life was in danger. Hernandez was trying to break away from the gangsters he’d befriended,” Rolling Stone magazine reports.
But more trouble was around the corner for Hernandez after he and his fiancée Shayanna Jenkins were involved in a domestic dispute in March, the magazine reports. Belichick, according to the magazine, “exploded” after hearing about it and threatened to dump the former tight end at the end of the 2013 season if more incidents occurred.
“Mortified, Hernandez returned to Boston; Belichick, per a close Hernandez associate, had told him to lay low, rent a safe house for a while,” the magazine reported.
Hernandez would eventually rent a condominium in Franklin, Mass., just miles from his North Attleborough mansion. The condo was identified as a “flop house” in court documents and it’s where authorities say they found incriminating items that police believe link him to Lloyd’s murder.
In a July press conference, Belichick said Hernandez’s June 26 arrest was the first he learned of the 23-year-old’s problems with the law.
“I and other members of the organization were shocked and disappointed with what we learned,” Belichick said.
In his first remarks after Lloyd’s murder, Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft said he was “duped” by Hernandez and had no knowledge of his troubles.
Hernandez’s lawyers declined to comment and the Patriots said they don’t anticipate issuing a statement or comment regarding the Rolling Stone story.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter says while Hernandez’s coaches may have had some of the pieces, it’s unlikely they were aware of the extent of the player’s alleged substance abuse.
“If the New England Patriots knew all this information they would have never kept him around,” he said. “They would have never given him a contract extension. They would have never stood by to try and support him.”
Since taking over the Patriots in 2000, Belichick, 61, has appeared in five Super Bowls, winning three of them, and he won coach of the year three times.
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