For years, Rob Gronkowski dodged any and all questions about Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction. But now, nearly four years after Hernandez’s death, Gronkowski has finally spoken out and shared his thoughts.
“Aaron was a great player. He was a great football player,” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers player, 31, said on Spotify’s “10 Questions With Kyle Brandt” podcast on Wednesday, March 17. “But, I mean, I get questions … all the time about him and everything. And with everything going on, I was definitely shook when I heard that, when I heard everything about it.”
Gronkowski explained that he always saw Hernandez as another New England Patriot and did not put too much thought into his fellow tight end’s life off the football field.
“Being his teammate and everything and you just, you really don’t see that. You’re not really looking into players like that’s who they are or that’s what they’re doing,” he recalled. “But just overall, I just try to keep it simple and light. He was a great football player, but that does not mean anything. But you learn from other people too.”
The Patriots drafted both Gronkowski and Hernandez in 2010. They played together until 2012, the same year that the Connecticut native was investigated in connection with the double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. While Hernandez was indicted on murder charges for the killings of the Cape Verde natives, he was acquitted in April 2017.
The Patriots officially released Hernandez from the team in June 2013 after he was charged with the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the NFL star’s fiancée Shayanna Jenkins’ sister Shaneah Jenkins. Hernandez maintained his innocence in the fatal shooting of Lloyd, but he was found guilty in April 2015.
While serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, the University of Florida alum was found hanging by his bedsheets from the window in his prison cell in April 2017. His death, which came five days after his acquittal in the 2012 double homicide case, was ruled a suicide. He was 27.
Following his death, Hernandez’s conviction for Lloyd’s murder was vacated. However, it was reinstated in March 2019 after an appeal from prosecutors and Lloyd’s family.
The athlete is survived by his fiancée, Shayanna, and their now-8-year-old daughter, Avielle.