Former New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch expressed his shock at the arrest of his former teammate Aaron Hernandez.
Hernandez was released by the Patriots last week in the aftermath of him being arrested and charged by Police for the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-professional football player.
Lloyd’s body was found about a mile from Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts and investigators arrested the tight end shortly afterwards.
Two other men have subsequently been arrested in connection to the crime and all are being held without bail.
Branch, who has spent most of his 11-year NFL career playing for New England, hoped Hernandez has his name cleared for the crime, if innocent, but insisted that justice was the primary concern.
After four years with Seattle, Branch re-joined Bill Belichick’s side in 2010, which was Hernandez’s rookie year.
Currently a free agent, the 2005 Super Bowl MVP also sent out his condolences to Lloyd’s family, who conducted his funeral this weekend.
Aaron is a great guy and a great friend of mine and a great teammate,” Branch told The Albany Herald.
“I love him to death, and it was shocking to hear his name involved in this situation. I truly hope and pray he doesn’t have any dealings with it.
“That’s my guy, man, that’s my guy. It really shocked me. He was a great kid.
“Overall, I hope the best that he isn’t involved with it and I hope he gets his name cleared, but most importantly I send my prayers and condolences out to the Lloyd family.”
Although Branch believes it is a shame for someone as talented as Hernandez to be involved in such an incident, he insisted nobody should lose sight of what was important.
“Nobody deserves to walk, whoever the person is that did it,” Branch added.
“Most of all what we as Americans need to understand is that is somebody’s child that was a victim.
“That’s somebody’s dad, and my prayers and thoughts go out to his family and hope that they bring whoever did this to their child to justice, regardless of who it is.”