Aaron Hernandez could face death penalty

By Bill Lankhof, Toronto Sun

Aaron Hernandez is led out of the North Attleborough police station after being arrested June 26, 2013. (DOMINICK REUTER/Reuters)

Aaron Hernandez is led out of the North Attleborough police station after being arrested June 26, 2013. (DOMINICK REUTER/Reuters)

Football players and coaches are always talking about execution, execution and execution.

But for Aaron Hernandez the term is starting to take on a whole different meaning.

For the former Patriots’ star tight end, execution isn’t about pass routes or blocking assignments anymore. It’s about life and, perhaps eventually, the death penalty.

Two separate grand juries in Massachusetts are considering whether to indict Hernandez — one for the June 2013 murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, the other for the July 2012 murders of Safiro Furtado and Dan Abreu.

Massachusetts does not have a death penalty. But the United States government does and, if the case goes federal, as attorney Jack Furlong told NBCSN on Thursday, Hernandez could be arguing for his life.

“If this was a murder of a witness or someone who knew something about the earlier murder, then this case becomes potentially a death-penalty case and a federal proceeding,” Furlong explained.

There have been reports that Odin may have known something about the 2012 double killings. “This case ... went across state lines repeatedly between Florida, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It could go federal in a heartbeat,” said Furlong.

In Foxboro, Hernandez’s former teammates reported for training camp Thursday with team captains Vince Wilfork and Tom Brady addressing media.

“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.”

Wilfork said the incident can’t help but resonate for some time but that, like other people who have dealt with tragedy, players must continue to live as normally as possible.

”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.”


Jairus Byrd won’t be at the opening of Bills training camp on Saturday.

And, there’s no way the Bills can make him.

The safety is in a snit over his $6.916-million franchise tender, refusing to sign it.

And, since he hasn’t, he isn’t under contract, which means he’s not obligated to show up.

The team can’t even fine him.

All Byrd has to do to guarantee his contract for 2013 is to show up for the first regular-season game. Even that might not be a great thing for the Bills because, with first-year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine changing everything, chances are Byrd would have to call a timeout just to figure out how to find the bathroom — let alone, who he’s supposed to be covering.


Darrelle Revis is feeling the love.

Asked by the NFL Network’s Warren Sapp what the biggest difference was between playing with the Jets, and now Tampa, the cornerback said: “It’s more of a family here. Everybody is real tight here. We all get along, everybody is fine. There’s no nitpicking. No small stories leaking out to be bigger stories. Everybody is on the same page here and we want to win.”

With the Jets last year, Revis was the subject of a lot of small stories that became big stories. Talk was rampant about owner Woody Johnson wanting to dump Revis, regarded by many as the best cornerback in the NFL.

He often found himself defending his salary and his worth as much as he got to talk about the receivers he was defending.


Matt Ryan took his rightful place among the NFL’s highest-paid QBs on Thursday when the Atlanta Falcons signed him to a five-year extension worth $103 million. The deal comes with $59 milliuon guaranteed. Ryan threw for 4,719 yards and 32 TDs last year ... The Seahawks have placed Percy Harvin on the physically unable to perform list with a hip injury. The designation means he can be activated at any time but, after arriving from Minnesota and signing a fat contract, it’s still not a great way to start ... Cornerback D.J. Hayden, the No. 12 overall draft pick, has signed with the Raiders. It’s expected he’ll start alongside veterans Tracy Porter, Charles Woodson and Mike Jenkins in a revamped secondary ... Denver has signed defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, its first-round pick ... The naming rights to Cowboys Stadium have been sold to AT&T. The corporation is believed to be paying about $20 million a year for the right to keep owner Jerry Jones in pocket change ... Bears defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis has retired.

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