No longer employed by the New England Patriots, future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski is now willing to at least touch on how he felt about his former teammate Aaron Hernandez being convicted of murder.
“Aaron was a great player,” Gronkowski told Kyle Brandt on a podcast appearance. “He was a great football player. But...I get questions like that all the time, about him and everything. And, with everything going on, I was definitely shook when I heard that."
“Being a teammate and everything … you really don’t see that,” Gronkowski continued. “You’re not really looking into players like that’s who they are, or that’s what they’re doing. You know, just overall I just try to keep it simple and light. He was a great football player, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
In June of 2013, Hernandez was released by the Patriots following being charged with first-degree murder in the case of Odin Lloyd. Lloyd, 27, had been dating Hernandez's fiancée's sister. Hernandez was convicted of the murder in April of 2015.
Hernandez was found not guilty of the murders of Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Teixeira Furtado, an incident that had allegedly taken place in 2012, prior to the murder of Lloyd. But despite getting off on those charges in April of 2017, Hernandez, facing life in prison, committed suicide in his jail cell later that same month.
Both drafted in 2010, Hernandez and Gronkowski were teammates on the Patriots for three seasons. During that time they formed perhaps the most dynamic tight end duo in NFL history, including combining for 2,237 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns during the 2011 season.
In the past, perhaps under the direction of the Patriots organization, Gronkowski had been hesitant to discuss Hernandez at all. During an interview with his full family on "CBS This Morning" in July of 2013, Gronkowski nearly walked off the set of an interview when asked repeatedly about his former teammate.