An emotional Aaron Hernandez opened up Monday night at the Patriots charity gala about his new, five-year contract extension, describing the deal as a "lifelong dream" come true.
The extension will reportedly pay Hernandez $40 million in additional money, and ensures that the Patriots electric young tight end duo will remain intact for many more seasons. Earlier this offseason, the Patriots locked up Rob Gronkowski with an extension that could keep him in New England through 2019.
After Gronkowski received his deal, Hernandez knew he was next-in-line for a new contract.
"I knew it was coming, just cause, when Gronk got it, I knew there was a good chance I was next in line," he said. "Now that it happened, it's definitely a blessing, and take it in, I'm excited to go on with my life."
The process of negotiating the new deal has been an emotional one for Hernandez.
"As soon as we started talking about contracts, I was emotional from that day on," he continued. "Honestly, it's hard for me here [at the gala] to stay, keeping my mind off it, and it's just, like I said, it's surreal. Probably when I'm done with this conversation I'll get some tears in my eyes. But it's real, and it's an honor."
Hernandez, who is originally from nearby Bristol, Conn., was quick to share the news with his family.
"I called them and told them obviously what the contract was, and the basics about about it," he said. "They were all crying. I was crying right with them. This is probably one of the best days of my life. I'll remember this day forever. I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, making the right decisions so I can have a good life, and be there to live a good life with my family."
In signing Hernandez to a long-term deal, the Patriots pledged their commitment to the 22-year old, who expressed that there is no other team he'd rather be a part of.
"I couldn't be with a better franchise," Hernandez stated. "I know Tom's [Brady] going to be around for a while. I love the coaches, I'm close to my family. The whole organization is actually an organization. A lot of places are called organizations, but are they really organized."
In just over two years with the team, Hernandez has matured not only as a football player, but also as a person.
"This is a place that not only did it change my future from them paying me, but it just changed me as a person," he said. "You can't come here and act reckless and do your own stuff, and [I] was one of the persons that I came here, I might've acted the way I wanted to act, but you get changed by Bill Belichick's way. You get changed by the Patriots' way. Now that I'm a Patriot, I have to start living like one, and making the right decisions for them."