Could the Patriots have done more with Aaron Hernandez, and other thoughts

Picked-up pieces while wondering why everyone who coaches against Bill Belichick loses his football mind (your turn, Mike Vrabel) . . .

 For those of you who were caught up in the Red Sox ride, or perhaps too busy to read the Globe Spotlight’s team’s six-part series on Aaron Hernandez, here are some nuggets you might have missed: Remember the “safe house” in Franklin where Hernandez stored ammunition and drugs, a few miles from the North Attleborough home he shared with his fiancée and infant daughter? Based on Belichick’s own statements when he was interviewed by the State Police after Odin Lloyd’s murder, the Patriots helped Hernandez find the flop house.

In July 2013, after Hernandez was arrested for murdering Lloyd, we asked Belichick about the flop house and the coach answered, “We have absolutely done as much work as we can on finding out things like that and we’ll try to get all the information that we can. . .”


It was not difficult for the Patriots to find that information. According to Bob Hohler and the Spotlight team — based on Belichick’s interview with police and information from Hernandez’s texts — after Hernandez went to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis to tell Belichick he feared for the safety of his fiancée and daughter in February 2013, Belichick dispatched team employee Kevin Anderson to help Hernandez find the apartment.

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When the Patriots’ connection to the safe house was first reported by Rolling Stone in August 2013 (after Hernandez had been arrested for murder), team president Jonathan Kraft said, “If a player had told Bill that his life was in danger, Bill would say, ‘We’re calling [team security chief] Mark Briggs, we’re calling the authorities. His response wouldn’t be, ‘We’re going to get a safe house and lie low.’ ’’

In fact, this appears to be exactly what the Patriots did.

According to Spotlight, after Hernandez told Belichick that he feared for the safety of his fiancée and daughter and wanted to be traded or released, “Hernandez did accept Belichick’s offer to find him a new residence . . . there’s no evidence [Belichick] went to police or even to the Patriots’ security chief about a star player’s report that his family might be in danger . . . Had the Patriots promptly alerted law enforcement, might investigators have uncovered not only [Alexander] Bradley’s death threats against Hernandez, but the reason for them? . . . Might that disclosure have helped police solve the double murder in Boston before anyone else was killed?’’

Aaron Hernandez’s former Franklin apartment.
Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe
Aaron Hernandez’s former Franklin apartment.

When the Spotlight team went to the Patriots with these questions, the team’s only response came from media relations spokesman Stacey James, who wrote, “Coach Belichick . . . stands by what he told police investigators 100 percent.’’ According to the police report (police agreed to Belichick’s request not to tape record their interview with him), William Belichick indicated that Aaron Hernandez expressed interest in relocating . . . ”


This is an instance in which the Patriots “keeping things in-house” failed to serve the local community. One could conclude that it proved deadly. Anderson left the Patriots in January 2016 and today serves as the chief of staff/head coach administration for the Detroit Lions.

 BC’s Steve Addazio is another local coach who came up short in the Spotlight series. Despicable Urban Meyer was Hernandez’s coach at Florida and predictably turned a blind eye toward all of the warning signs regarding Hernandez. Meyer told the Globe that his then-assistant Addazio did most of the legwork in bringing Hernandez to Florida. Asked by Spotlight to discuss his role in Hernandez’s college years, Addazio declined. Weak. But the rewards are great for those who see nothing and know nothing in big-time college sports. Boston College pays Addazio $2.6 million annually.

 Maybe it’s time for the Red Sox to cut ties with consultant Bill James. The arrogant stat man’s recent tweet stated that all big league players were replaceable and compared the players to beer vendors (way to insult working folks while you are trying to insult ballplayers). This is hardly James’s first offense. Time to send him back to the silo.

 Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred should be panicked by the World Series TV ratings on Fox. Viewership was down 25 percent from last year. Got that? Los Angeles and Boston drew 25 percent less than LA-Houston. Baseball, you have a problem.

 This week’s new narrative that the Super Bowl benching of Malcolm Butler was actually a swell idea and proof of Belichick’s magical powers is a true head-scratcher. Not signing Butler looks good now (although the Patriots did make a run at him). Not playing him in the Super Bowl remains inexcusable. Butler never came off the field in the AFC Championship game. Pretending Bill suddenly deduced that Butler could no longer contribute in the hours before the Super Bowl is ludicrous.


 Say goodbye to Chief Wahoo, the goofy, grinning red-faced Indian that was Cleveland’s logo for so many years. Cleveland’s elimination at the hands of Houston in the Division Series was the last you’ll see of the Chief.

 If the Celtics make it to the Finals against the Warriors, be prepared for some emotional goodbyes for Oracle Arena. The Warriors are moving to downtown San Francisco next season. Oracle is part of the A’s-Raiders Alameda County Coliseum complex that dates to 1966. It is the oldest arena in the NBA. Larry Bird never liked shooting there.

 Classy of the Dodgers to take out a full-page ad in the Globe after the Red Sox won the World Series. Very un-Machado-like.

 If I’m Sean Payton, I bench Michael Thomas and dock him a week’s pay for his premeditated telephone stunt after scoring against the Rams last Sunday. It could have cost his team its most important win of the season. No Patriot would try that.

 Nine major league teams had zero complete games pitched this season — including playoff entries Colorado, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles.

 Silly me. I would have thought Josh McDaniels’s stunt at Indianapolis last winter would have taken him out of the running in the job market for a while. Wonder if Josh will hire the same assistants he left holding the bag when he quit before he started at Lucas Oil Stadium?

 High school and college journalism teachers take note: Please teach your students two things about news conference questions: 1. “Talk about . . . ” is not a question. It is a command. And it is lazy; 2: The worst form of modern questioning, now rampant, is the “How” question, as in, “How important was that play?’’ or “How impressive was your quarterback?’’ It’s a leading non-question, which presumes that what the reporter is asking is automatically true. It’s also an unanswerable request to somehow quantify an emotion. Try, “Was this a special win?’’ rather than “How special was this?’’

 The Lakers would be crazy to dump Luke Walton. Anyone who has to deal with Rondo, Lonzo’s dad, and LeBron should get a long leash.

 The Celtics should sell high with Terry Rozier. Same with the Red Sox and the beloved Jackie Bradley Jr. And it’s OK to let Joe Kelly go. Some team is going to overpay Kelly. It doesn’t need to be your team.

A report emerged earlier this week that Terry Rozier has been unhappy with his playing time. Rozier later denied those reports.
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
A report emerged earlier this week that Terry Rozier has been unhappy with his playing time. Rozier later denied those reports.

 David Price is correct. He holds the trump card now. He earned it. Price took his beating like a man (would any other starter report to the interview room after being lifted in the middle of the second inning of a playoff game?) and gets to control his narrative moving forward.

 Alex Cora had a great year, but “suck on it” at the rally was unfortunate. Touchy New Yorkers think Cora was taunting the Yankees. He was not. He was taunting the doubters. It was decidedly un-presidential.

 George Steinbrenner is one of 10 candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee this year. Lee Smith, Lou Piniella, and Harold Baines are also on the list. The committee will rule and announce any new inductees on Dec. 9.

 It’s been a good season for books about the NFL. To that list we add, “The League,” a story of the NFL’s creation by John Eisenberg.

 Looking forward to “Heading Home — The Tale of Team Israel,” a film about Israel’s run in the World Baseball Classic, which will start playing at the West Newton Cinema Dec. 14. Nate Freiman, a former Globe All-Scholastic who starred at Wellesley High and Duke then made it to the big leagues with the Oakland A’s, is the 6-foot-8-inch No. 20 on the movie’s poster.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy