Tom Brady and Aaron Hernandez were teammates for two years with the New England Patriots, but the two didn’t stay close after Hernandez’s life went wrong.
“I don’t think about him very often,” Brady told WEEI on Monday when asked about his former teammate.
Hernandez was a tight end for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012. He was arrested in 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd, his fiancée’s sister’s boyfriend. He was lated convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He later faced double murder charges for the deaths of two men outside a Boston nightclub in 2012. He was acquitted.
Hernandez hanged himself with a bed sheet in prison in April. He was 27.
“It’s just very tragic, for everyone involved,” said Brady. “To have a teammate who we were all in the huddle with, played some great games with. For everybody involved, it’s just a horrible thing. I don’t know what to make of it. It’s just very, very, very sad.”
Last week, Hernandez’s lawyer announced that the football player had suffered from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to head trauma. His estate is suing the NFL and the Patriots.
Symptoms of CTE can include aggression, depression, diminished impulse control, memory loss, impaired cognitive skills and suicidal tendencies.
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Asked about how he protects himself from CTE, Brady acknowledged that he takes a risk when he takes the field.
“There’s been a lot of awareness towards [CTE],” said Brady. “I understand the risks. I can only do the best I can possibly do to try to take care of my body in the ways that I believe work for me. Anyone who plays a physical sport is going to encounter some degree of injury, whether that’s to your ankle, to your leg, or to your head. You understand that part of playing the sport.”
“To me, the joys I gain from playing football far outweigh the negatives,” he continued. “I’m not blind to these studies and so forth, but I’m just going to try to do the best I can do with the hydration, how I eat and how I take care of my body in order to try to circumvent some of those things if that’s possible. No one can predict the future.”