Retired offensive tackle Matt Light said last week that he "never embraced" the lifestyle led by Aaron Hernandez prior to the first-degree murder charge filed against the former New England Patriots tight end.
Among former teammates, though, Light's opinion was not unanimous. Free agent Deion Branch, who played with Hernandez for two and a half seasons, said he was "shocked" to hear about the case against Hernandez in connection to the death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd.
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"Aaron is a great guy and a great friend of mine and a great teammate," Branch told The Albany Herald on Saturday. "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."
Although Hernandez entered the NFL with a checkered background, Branch said there was nothing he had seen on or off the field that would have led him to believe his former Patriots teammate was capable of murder.
Branch did stress that his greatest concern was seeing Lloyd's killer brought to justice so the Lloyd family could find some semblance of peace.
"Nobody deserves to walk, whoever the person is that did it," Branch said. "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."