Charles Krupa, Associated Press
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady was soft-spoken and thoughtful Thursday as he met with about 50 media members.
Given the circumstances surrounding the New England Patriots this summer, clearly, this wasn't your typical training camp quarterback interview.
In the wake of former tight end Aaron Hernandez's arrest on a murder charge, and a day after his coach, Bill Belichick, addressed the matter, Brady said Thursday the Patriots must work hard to "re-establish what we're all about."
"It's been a challenging offseason," he said as New England opened camp. "But we're going to try to move forward as best we know how."
Brady talked at length for the first time since Hernandez's name surfaced in connection with the shooting death of Boston semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd on June 17. Hernandez was arrested on June 26 and cut by the Patriots before he was charged that afternoon. He is being held without bail after pleading not guilty.
"Certainly, it's a very tragic thing that happened and someone loses their life," Brady said during a 17-minute session on the team's practice field, "but all those things were out of the players' control here. We're not really a part of that situation."
He declined to answer several questions, saying he had been advised not to. They included whether he had spoken with Hernandez or whether Hernandez had apologized to him after the tight end was linked to the investigation.
During Hernandez's three seasons since being drafted by the Patriots, he was one of Brady's top receivers.
Asked if he thought he knew Hernandez, Brady said, "the relationship that you have as a football player, the relationship you have within the walls of (Gillette Stadium) are what they are and then people have their own life."
Might people not know others as well as they think they do?
"I don't know if you quantify those things," Brady said. "How well do you know your kids? You try to do the best you can do, but everyone is ultimately accountable for their own decision making."
Asked if Hernandez had fit in with his former teammates, Brady said, "I don't think any of that really matters to me or matters to anything that's going on with the legal process or anything like that."
And the Hernandez case has been "zero" distraction for him.
"You trust in your other teammates and you trust them to do their job so that you can do your job," Brady said.
Did he trust Hernandez?
"I'm really not supposed to comment on Aaron," he said. "I wish I could."
To start camp, Belichick orchestrated a 22-minute news conference Wednesday as the Patriots try to wipe away the stain Hernandez's arrest brings to their reputation. Belichick displayed unusual patience with questioners and gave more detailed answers than usual.
"It's a terrible thing that happened," Brady said. "There's a very human, compassionate element that we all have and when it's someone that has been on our team, it's a very sad thing. So I think that we, as a team, have tried to move forward with better awareness and understanding of these types of things."
He listed several former teammates — Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Faulk, Troy Brown, Mike Vrabel — who represented the Patriots well on and off the field.
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