Seeing Aaron Hernandez arrested Wednesday brought back memories for former Ravens coach Brian Billick. He was the Ravens’ head coach in 2000 when Ray Lewis was involved in a murder case. The Ravens stuck by Lewis, and the murder chargers against him were eventually dropped. Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. The Patriots released Hernandez on Wednesday, and his eventual legal fate remains unknown.
“Let’s go back to the Ray Lewis situation,” Billick said Wednesday on NFL Network’s “NFL AM” show. “It unfolded on us very rapidly. Our support of Ray Lewis stemmed primarily from our faith in Ray Lewis as a person. We did not have access to all the facts. It took months and months for that to unfold, to find out that Ray Lewis really wasn’t culpable in any of those events. We had to go on kind of a leap of faith.
“Quite honestly, I’ve got to believe there are any number of people, that my reputation and the way people look at me, took a bit of a hit in my supporting of Ray Lewis at the time. Going forward, the subsequent events proved out favorable for Ray Lewis. But there are still those, that you know, still believe the culpability of Ray Lewis with that situation.”
The Patriots’ decision to release Hernandez made Billick wonder if the Patriots had learned details of Hernandez’s involvement in Odin Lloyd’s murder.
“Virtually every club in the league, via the NFL as a whole or individually, have any number of staff, security staff – any staff – that, as you said, are former FBI or former detectives,’’ Billick said. “They’re able to tap back into relationships that they have to find out what’s going on. “Aaron Hernandez came into the league with some baggage, as many players do. It’s why a talent like Hernandez fell to the fourth round quite frankly.
“The New England Patriots have had an appreciable amount of time to monitor this. This (releasing Hernandez) clearly makes this a much easier way for the organization to move past this, for this not to be a distraction going forward.’’