Patriots

Hernandez overwhelmed by emotion following extension

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Hernandez overwhelmed by emotion following extension

FOXBORO -- Aaron Hernandez was at the Patriots Charitable Foundation's Kickoff Gala Monday night. Just hours removed from finalizing a five-year, 37.5 million dollar contract extension, the 22-year old tight end was, happily, an emotional mess.

His reaction:

"It's a lifelong dream. Still kind of surreal, but taking it in over the next few days, months, years... It's just a blessing. Hopefully, I make the right decisions with it and have a good life.
"As soon as we started talking about my contract I was emotional from that day on. Honestly, it's hard for me here to stay, keeping my mind off it like I said, it's surreal. Probably when I'm done with this conversation I'll have tears in my eyes. But it's real and it's an honor."

Why is it surreal?

AH: "You always dream of it but you never really think it's going to come. When it happens, you know there's a good chance you're set for life as long as you handle it the right way. It's an honor. It seems so surreal like, 'Is it really true?' It's just a dream and knowing I can help my family -- they're the ones that I love -- it's an honor."

Did fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski's contract -- a six-year, 54 million deal -- lead you to think you might be next?

AH: "I knew it was coming, because when Gronk got it, I knew there was a good chance I was next in line. Now that it happened, it's definitely a blessing. Take it in and I'm excited to go on.

"Me and Gronk are very close. Honestly, when he got paid tears came to my eyes because knowing his life is changed forever. Gronk's a great kid he probably doesn't even realize he's set for life. Laughs He lives life, he's such a happy person and he makes everyone around him have a good time just by his presence. I was happy for him.

"Even that day, just knowing there was an opportunity for me to make a good money like him brought tears to my eyes. Now that this day is here that I've been waiting for my whole life, I've been working and going through all my struggles to get here. It's just a blessing."

What did you tell your family?

AH: "I called them and told them what the contract was and the basics about it. They were all crying. I was crying right with them. This is probably one of the best days of my life; I'll remember this day forever. I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, and making the right decisions so I can have a good life and be there to live a good life with my family."

You donated 50,000 to Robert Kraft's foundation. Why?

AH: "It's just He changed my life. Now I basically have a good chance to be set for life, and have a good life. I have a daughter on the way, and a family that I love, and it's just knowing that they're going to be okay because I was happy playing for my 250,000-400,000. Knowing that my kids and my family will be able to have a good life, go to college, it's just an honor that he did that for me, he gave me that opportunity. 50,000 to help his foundation, obviously, it's basically saying thank you and it means a lot to me."

"He changed my life. He personally He's the one who has the final decision. Him saying, 'I want you around here for the next seven years,' since it's a five-year extension, is that he wants me a part of his family. I'm a part of the Patriots family. He set me up for life. He didn't need to give me the amount he gave me. Knowing he thinks I deserve that and he trust me to make the right decisions, it means a lot. It means he trusts my character and the person I am, which means a lot. My mother that's how she raised me. I just feel a lot of respect and I owe it back to them. Not only is it 50,000 that's just the money that doesn't mean much, it's the amount given. all I can do is play my heart out for them and make the right decisions and live like a Patriot."

This deal will take you into the prime of your career. How does this deal impact you as a football player?

AH: "I couldn't be with a better franchise. I know Tom Brady's going to be around for a while. I love the coaches, I'm close to my family, the whole organization is actually an organization. A lot of places are called organizations, but are they really organized? This is a place that not only did it change my future from paying me, but it just changed me as a person. You can't come here and act reckless and do your own stuff, and I was one of the persons that I might have come here and acted the way I wanted to act, but you get changed by Bill Belichick's way, you get changed by the Patriot way. Now that I'm a Patriot I have to start living like one and making the right decisions for them."

#FridayBag: Don't worry, you can keep your hands to yourself

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#FridayBag: Don't worry, you can keep your hands to yourself

FOXBORO - Every Friday, Phil Perry and Mike Giardi will take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or Friday Bag, as they call it.

Got questions? Tweet the guys using the hashtag #FridayBag. But for now, give the latest edition of the Bag a read.

MG: Hopefully that’s not needed, Casey, but I will pass it on. 

MG: BIG GAME! Sure. Why the hell not?

MG: Allie, this is a question that’s I’ve been pondering for years, or at least months . . . ok, for about 3 minutes. Tarzan has either a) been duping us all this time and actually has a job, drives an BMW and has a colonial with 2 1/2 baths or b) he’s a baby face who never hit puberty. 

MG: Mikey! Here’s a quite from Todd Wash, Jags DC, when asked about Ramsey possibly covering Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski Sunday: “I think the last thing you can do is to go into a game like this and you try and reinvent the wheel . . . Jalen is a good corner and he plays against wide receivers . . . "

So either he’s telling the truth or he doesn’t want to reveal a wrinkle. My opinion: Why waste Ramsey outside the entire game? Brady’s at his best attacking inside the numbers and even more to the point, inside the hashes. At the very least, I’d deploy Ramsey on Gronk in the red area and make Tommy boy look elsewhere.

MG: Yeah, tough injury. Jon Jones has been terrific on special teams for two years, a likely heir apparent to Matt Slater as that guy who ends up being in the Pro Bowl every year. Love almost every bit of what he brings. Would say Jonathan Bademosi will be active this week and move into that role. 

MG: Sizzle, for sure. We’ve done a lot of X’s and O’s on this one and one area where the Jags have been especially vulnerable is under the linebackers. That means running backs, that means shorter crossing patterns and that means combo platters designed to force these LBs to make a decision. Telvin Smith was targeted 13 times last weekend (according to Pro Football Focus) and surrendered 12 catches. A healthy Brady feasts on this.

MG: Goose making his #FridayBag debut. Welcome. Best matchup is Matt Patricia and his big brains versus Blake Bortles. If that kid thinks he’s going to be looking at the same thing very often, I got a bridge to sell him. Worst matchup is T.J. Yeldon on the linebackers. We’ve spent a ton of time talking about Leonard Fournette and what he brings if he’s healthy but Yeldon is both strong, shifty and can catch. With a skittish QB, Yeldon could be heavily involved.



PP: JP, checking in from the District! I'd say the chances are minimal. I would do it. You might do it. Go out on top and all that. But you and I haven't been saying for years that we're planing to work into our mid-40s. And we don't have post-retirement business plans that kind of hinge on our ability to work into our mid-40s. We also aren't about to be named MVP...of anything. We'll see, but I would be very surprised if this ends up being Brady's last season.



PP: Good question, Michael. Also a scary one for Patriots fans, I'd think. If the unexpected happens and Brady can't take the field, I think you'd have some packages in place for Chris Hogan or Jacob Hollister just in case something happened to Brian Hoyer. Hogan is arguably one of the most versatile athletes on the team, and he threw a pass (left-handed) at MetLife last year. Hollister was a walk-on quarterback at the University of Nevada. When he transferred to Arizona Western Community College, he made the transition to tight end.



PP: To me, all of these questions are related, so let's smash them all together. I do believe the Patriots will show plenty of "21" and "12" personnel in this game. That means either a) two receivers, two backs and one tight end, or b) two receivers, one back and two tight ends. In that scenario, the receivers would be -- in my opinion -- some combination of Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola. I'd use the Cooks-Amendola combination most frequently unless it seems like Hogan has completely shaken the rust from his long regular-season absence. The reason it would be a good idea to use theses heavier formations -- as opposed to "11" personnel with three wideouts -- is that it attacks the Jaguars with their weaker coverage people on the field. If the Patriots deploy, say, James Develin, Dion Lewis and Rob Gronkowski in the same look, Jacksonville would likely have to respond by putting run-stuffing linebacker Paul Posluszny on the field. If the Patriots can manipulate the coverage to get any non-Develin weapon on Posluszny, that's a mismatch they can exploit. We go into further detail on how the Patriots can exploit the Jaguars' base defense -- which has struggled in coverage this season -- here

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