Hernandez: Fatherhood has changed me

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was all smiles talking about the birth Tuesday of his first child, Avielle, as he met with reporters on Thursday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

"It's definitely a great experience," he said of being a father for the first time. "And a beautiful little girl, and I'm excited."

He described having a daughter as a life-changing experience.

"Especially every time I come to the stadium, I can't wait to go see her," he said. "She's a cutie, and I can't wait to go back and basically look at myself."

The third-year tight end said being a father will make him look at life differently.

"One thing I know, it definitely changed my life. I'm going to look at things differently," Hernandez said. "And I may be young and wild, but I'm not. I'm engaged now, and I have a baby. It's just going to make me think of life differently, and doing things the right way, because I know another one's looking up to me. I can't just be young and reckless Aaron anymore. I'm going to try to do the right things, become a good father, and be raised like I was raised."

In an unusual twist of fate, Hernandez's daughter was born on Nov. 6, the same day he was born 23 years prior.

"It's crazy. It's the best birthday gift you could have, having a daughter on your birthday," he said. "Especially daddy's little girl. It's an honor. I couldn't ask for my life to be better at this point. My life is pretty good and thank God for that, and it's a blessing. I still feel blessed daily."

As for the status of his injured right ankle, Hernandez was asked if the fact that he was wearing a game jersey during the team's practice earlier in the day was a good sign that he was getting ready to return.

"Game time," he replied. "Game time. So that's it."