Report: Bill Belichick knew Aaron Hernandez felt 'life was in danger'

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Did Bill Belichick know about Hernandez' problems?
Did Bill Belichick know about Hernandez's problems? (USATSI)

On Tuesday, not long after Aaron Hernandez was officially scheduled for a Sept. 6 arraignment on first-degree murder charges, Rolling Stone dropped a teaser about an upcoming article on the former Patriots tight end. That teaser is now a full-blown article as Rolling Stone dropped the proverbial bombshell on Wednesday.

Titled "Gangster in the Huddle," it's a behemoth of an article that alleges a lot of pretty incendiary stuff. For instance, Rolling Stone reports that Hernandez flew to the 2013 NFL combine to see Bill Belichick and tell the coach that the tight end felt his life was in danger.

"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," Paul Solotaroff and Ron Borges write. "Hernandez was trying to break away from the gangsters he'd befriended. He worried 'they were actually trying to kill him,' says the source."

Putting aside why Hernandez was paranoid for a moment (we'll get to that), this would be a major, major deal if true. The Patriots -- or, at least, Patriots owner Robert Kraft -- claim they were "duped" by Hernandez. But if Belichick knew that Hernandez felt his life was in danger, well, it might shift some liability in this matter, moral or otherwise.

It's only alleged or reported or whatever word you need, so it might not be relevant, especially when you consider that one of two people actually know about this conversation between Belichick and Hernandez. One of those people is currently in jail and the other is the head coach of the Patriots.

But it's worth watching either way especially when two previous Patriots beat writers -- both of whom are writers for national sites -- confirmed the conversation between Belichick and Hernandez. (And as our own Pete Prisco noted, Hernandez was in Indy during the combine.)

SI.com's Greg Bedard also told me on Twitter he heard of the conversation but couldn't find a second source to confirm the story. So, yeah, wow.

Back to Hernandez paranoia. Rolling Stone alleges that Hernandez, according to friends, became a heavy "angel dust" user. (Angel dust, for you squares that don't know, is PCP.) Using this "maniacal" drug, Hernandez became insanely paranoid, RS reports, and was "carrying a gun wherever he went."

"In exclusive conversations with Rolling Stone, those friends, who insisted they not be named, say Hernandez was using the maniacal drug angel dust, had fallen in with a crew of gangsters and convinced himself that his life was in danger, carrying a gun wherever he went," the magazine reports. "Sources close to the tight end add that throughout the spring, when players are expected to be preparing themselves for the marathon NFL season, Hernandez had missed workouts and sessions with a rehab trainer, and had been told by his head coach, Bill Belichick, that he was one misstep from being cut."

The magazine also reports later in the feature that during the 2013 offseason, things got pretty bad with Hernandez and the Patriots. The tight end reportedly "blew off sessions with his therapist, Alex Guerrero, and stood up Tom Brady, who was running a camp for Pats receivers."

After a domestic dispute between Hernandez and his fiancee Shayanna Jenkins, the mag reports that Belichick became so upset he "exploded" and threatened to dump Hernandez after 2013.

"No arrest was made, but word got back to Belichick, who exploded and tendered notice: Any more disruptions and he'd be traded or cut at the end of the 2013 season," the magazine writes.

Again, pretty heavy stuff here, but also stuff that wasn't reported anywhere during the offseason. You're telling me this information didn't leak out at all to the media? Because that's a lot of incidents occurring that, one would think, might find their way to the press during the offseason.

And then there's maybe the weirdest thing of all: Rolling Stone alleges, "per a close Hernandez associate," Bill Belichick told Hernandez "to lay low, rent a safe house for a while."

I mean, WHAT? That sounds a lot more like advice from Ron Burgundy than it does Bill Belichick. But that's how, allegedly, Hernandez ended up renting his now infamous "flop house."

Seriously, I'm flummoxed by all of this. The article's a complete bombshell assuming it's all true. I have a difficult time believing that Bill Freaking Belichick was told by one of his players that the player felt his own life was in danger, Belichick didn't do anything about it, so the player started skipping a bunch of workouts, then Belichick got mad and then, finally, Belichick told the player to rent a safe house and "lay low."

It's pretty implausible right? But then again, so is everything else that has happened with Aaron Hernandez over the past six months.

 
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