New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has spoken for the first time about his shock at the murder and gun charges brought against the franchise's tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Odin Lloyd on June 17, after the body of the man was found in an industrial park near the home of the Patriots TE in North Attleboro.
The news has sent shockwaves through the NFL and Kraft has taken the decision to break the Patriots silence on the situation - with the American business magnate claiming the franchise has been 'duped' by Hernandez.
"No one in our organization was aware of any of these kind of connections. If it’s true, I’m just shocked," Kraft told reporters on Monday. "Our whole organization has been duped."
Hernandez's time with the Patriots has been controversial from the start, with Kraft forced to personally intervene when the player was drafted as a fourth round pick three years ago.
Kraft defended the previous transgressions of Hernandez upon his arrival at the Gillette Stadium, with the tight end having admitted to recreational drug use during his time at the University of Florida.
Prior to the draft, Hernandez sent a letter to the Patriots saying he would reimburse the organisation for any money he would earn were he to be banned for a positive drug test.