Multiple teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts, removed Aaron Hernandez from their 2010 draft boards due to his sketchy associates and failed drug tests at Florida.
NFL teams generally believe that prior behavior is a good indicator of future behavior. The New England Patriots knew Hernandez was a substance-abuse risk, but his rap sheet entering the NFL otherwise was clean.
As it turned out, Hernandez didn't fail a single drug test with the Patriots, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe reported Sunday. In fact, a team source told Volin that Hernandez "did everything Bill Belichick asked of him football-wise," including diligence to extra work, staying in shape and remaining coachable and highly productive on the field.
I was asked by a radio host last week if the Patriots should be criticized for not only drafting Hernandez but also committing to a contract extension that will end up costing the team $16 million guaranteed over three years.
Football players never have been choir boys. The margin for error has decreased with the explosion of the Internet, talk radio and social media, but teams still take chances on players who have checkered backgrounds in every round of every draft.
The Patriots can be singled out as the one franchise that was willing to take a chance on Hernandez, but the former tight end kept his nose clean in New England. Hernandez occasionally would "tune out" and "become angry" when the Patriots suggested he stop hanging out with the wrong crowd, according to Volin. It's only with the benefit of hindsight that we can connect those ominous signs to Hernandez's current state.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.