ATTLEBORO, Mass. -- Aaron Hernandez could turn on the charm. There were times he would walk through the New England Patriots locker room, flash a wide smile and extend a sincere hello to a visitor before striking up a conversation. Friendly guy, it seemed.
He really turned it on last August, after the Patriots had signed him to a five-year contract extension worth about $40 million, saying it was one of the best days of his life and how being with the Patriots changed him. Sincere guy, it seemed.
"You can't come here and act reckless and do your own stuff. I might have acted the way I wanted to act, but you get changed by Bill Belichick's way. You get changed by the Patriots' way," Hernandez said at the time. "Now that I'm a Patriot, I have to start living like one, and making the right decisions for them."
Just 10 months later, Hernandez, who seemed believable that night as he also spoke about fatherhood, is now an ex-Patriot.
It's stunning on every level, a reminder that as much as we think we might know the professional athletes we cover, chances are we really don't. And sometimes, as is the case here, even the teams that employ them and deem them worthy of a megabucks contract extension don't really know them either.
CLICK HERE for Mike Reiss' column on Aaron Hernandez being charged with murder.