FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the team's longest-tenured player entering his 14th season with the franchise, said Thursday that former teammate Aaron Hernandez's murder charge is "very tragic" and the team is committed to re-establishing itself on the field and in the community.
"It's a terrible thing that happened," Brady told a large crowd of reporters at the team's practice facility. "In the city of Boston this year with what happened at the marathon, these are very terrible things you wish never happened to anybody. There's a very human, compassionate element that we all have, and when it's someone that has been on our team, it's a very sad thing.
"I think we as a team have tried to move forward with better awareness and understanding of these types of things. Hopefully nothing like this ever happens again."
Brady would not go into detail about his reaction when he learned of Hernandez's alleged connection with the killing, saying his feelings were "personal" and that his emotions "were probably like everyone else's."
"Everyone had a certain range of emotions, whatever they might have been," Brady said. "Those were really personal, and I dealt with them. At some point, you have to move forward, and I think we as a team are doing that. Certainly it's been a challenging offseason, but we're going to try to move forward the best we know how."
"I think we're just excited to be here. It's a fresh start for all of us. I know the last six weeks have been distracting for a lot of people, but I'd say for this team, we're trying to focus on our job and what we're trying to do to win football games," Brady said after players finished a morning session on the practice field.
"Certainly it's a very tragic thing that happened; someone loses their life. All those things were out of the players' control here and we're not really part of that situation, so I don't think it does a lot to get too much involved in that."
Brady declined to comment when asked specific questions about Hernandez, saying he had been advised not to speak about the former Patriots tight end. He added, however, that the best teammates he's had are players who earn trust by doing their jobs and who don't create distractions, and he cited receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch among that group.
Hernandez is being held without bail after being charged with the murder of semipro football player Odin Lloyd.
Brady defended the franchise when asked whether he felt any personal hurt that the Patriots' brand he has helped shape has been affected by Hernandez.
"I think that everyone that has played here has played a part of what the New England Patriots are all about -- guys like Kevin [Faulk] and Rodney [Harrison] and Larry [Izzo] and Mike [Vrabel] and Willie [McGinest], guys like that who are everything you want to be as a football player, and off the field and on the field, people that represent the community and represent our city, Foxborough, Boston and everywhere in between," he said.
"We realize that in light of the recent situation, those things get overshadowed, and we have to work hard to re-establish what we're all about, and that's to win games and to be the best representatives of this team and organization, and representatives for this city, that we can possibly be."
Wilfork, entering his 10th season with the Patriots, is the team's second-longest-tenured player. He said his first emotions when he learned of Hernandez's murder charge were sadness and disappointment.
"You're not just dealing with football right now. You're dealing with a human being, you're dealing with life," he said. "To come to training camp on a note like this is tough, but at the same time, we have to continue to do our job. We're not going to disrespect anything that's going on with the families, but we do have to play football, our job is to play football. We'll try to do that the best way we can."
Wilfork continued, "Like I said, when we walk through this door, we have a sign that says, 'Put the team first and do your job,' and you have to read it every time you come in. I'm pretty sure I will, even though it's been there for a long time and I do it every year, I think we're all going to do it. Because that's what we're going to have to do."
McCourty, entering his fourth NFL season, said he was shocked when he first learned that Hernandez was a focus of the murder investigation.
"You're saddened by all the news and everything you hear, but I think mostly you're just shocked," he said.
ESPNBoston.com's Field Yates contributed to this report.