FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The NFL Players Association has filed a grievance to help former New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez collect an $82,000 workout bonus.
Hernandez's contract provided for him to receive that amount if he
participated in 90 percent of the team's voluntary offseason workouts.
"On behalf of all players, it is our responsibility to protect the
rights in the collective bargaining agreement," the union said in a
statement. "We are not tone-deaf to what the allegations are in this
case, but for the benefit of all players, there are important
precedents here we must protect."
The Patriots cut Hernandez after he was arrested on June 26 and before
he was charged with murder later that day. He pleaded not guilty and is
being held without bail in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a friend
whose body was found June 17 near Hernandez's house. The union believes
Hernandez earned the bonus before his arrest.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft indicated he disagreed.
"It's simple," he said Tuesday. "You can look at our history. We honor
all our contracts and we expect the people who sign them to honor their
part of the contract."
Asked if he felt Hernandez didn't do that, Kraft said, "We honor our
contracts and we expect the people on the other side to do the same."
The NFL's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to recoup bonus
money when a player is incarcerated. The Patriots cut Hernandez before
the bonus, if earned, was due.
Hernandez was indicted last Thursday on first-degree murder and weapons
charges in the death of Lloyd, whose bullet-riddled body was found in
an industrial park about a mile from the ex-player's North
Attleborough, Mass., home.
Prosecutors say Hernandez orchestrated Lloyd's killing because he was
upset at him for talking to people Hernandez had problems with at a
nightclub days earlier.
Kraft said that since he bought the Patriots before the 1994 season,
"we've had probably over 2,000 people playing here and I think, by and
large, we've done a pretty good job. If you look at the last four years
I don't think we had any off-field incidents. So we're as diligent as
we can be.
"We know what we want to achieve, yet, when people go outside this
building, it's like those of you who have children," Kraft told
reporters. "Once they get to a certain age, you can't control all their
He also said that "every year in all of our businesses, we recalibrate
what we are doing to make sure we're staying fresh and on top of
things, and once you stop doing that, you'll perish."
The NFL, Kraft said, is "the most competitive business I've ever been
involved in and so we have reviewed everything. We've been very
diligent (in) the way we look at things and we'll try to do things as
best as we can to achieve the results we want."
The Patriots are "a microcosm of the world," he said. "All kinds of
things are going to happen. We do our best to hope that (players)
understand they're in a unique place. Playing in the NFL is a privilege
and we hope they're wise and mature enough to make sure they know how
to take advantage of that."
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