The swift personnel decision severed Hernandez's ties to the NFL from an employment standpoint, but he very much remains an NFL story. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn't run from that reality.
Breer: How the Pats move forward
"It's a black eye," Goodell told NFL Network on Wednesday in his first on-camera comments on the issue. "You never want to see your players involved with anything off the field or criminal in any nature, and this is deeply troubling ... to see this kind of behavior. It is something we are not proud of.
"The Patriots obviously reacted very quickly and decisively, and now it's up to Aaron ... and he's going to be facing the criminal process," Goodell went on. "In the meantime, what we have to do is do everything we can to help our young people make the right decisions and evaluate our people when they're coming into the league. And make sure to do everything to avoid these kind of situations."
There was irony to the timing of Hernandez's arrest, which coincided with the annual NFL Rookie Symposium that aims to help put young players on the right path at the start of their professional careers.
Hernandez wandered far off that path. The NFL can only move forward and attempt to ensure other players don't stray in similarly self-destructive ways.