BOSTON (CBS) – Upon signing his five-year, $40-million extension with the Patriots, tight end Aaron Hernandez made a gesture that will stay with owner Robert Kraft forever.
“One of the touching moments since I’ve owned the team — knowing that this is our charitable gala– Aaron came into my office, a little teary-eyed, and presented me with a check for $50,000 to go to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund,” Kraft said Monday night at the Patriots Charitable Foundation Kickoff Gala in Foxboro. “I said ‘Aaron, you don’t have to do this, you’ve already got your contract.’ And he said ‘No, it makes me feel good and I want to do it.'”
Hernandez said the gesture was just giving back to the man and his family that has already given him so much.
“He changed my life. Now I’m able to basically have a good chance to be set for life, and have a good life,” Hernandez said of Kraft and his new contract. “I have a daughter on the way, I have a family that I love. It’s just knowing that they’re going to be OK. Because I was happy playing for my $250,000, $400,000 (salary). Knowing that my kids and my family will be able to have a good life, go to college, it’s just an honor that he did that for me. He gave me this opportunity. The $50,000 to help his foundation, obviously, is basically like saying ‘thank you’ and its means a lot to me.”
“I just feel a lot of respect and I owe it back to him,” said Hernandez. “Not only is it $50,000, cause that’s not really, that’s just the money that really doesn’t mean much, with the amount given, it’s more, I have a lot more to give back, and all I can do is play my heart out for them, make the right decisions, and live life as a Patriot.”
“I just think he’s a super player, and really a first-class guy,” added Kraft.
In just his second NFL season,Hernandez tallied 79 receptions for 910 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. He has quickly become one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets on the field and his versatility makes him one of the more dynamic playmakers on the Patriots. Along with Gronkowski, who also inked a long-term extension this offseason, they make up the best tight end duo in the NFL.
Now, the two of them will be catching passes for the Patriots for at least the next five years together. For Hernandez, it’s a dream come true.
“I called [my family] and told them obviously what the contract was, and the basics about it. They were all crying; I was crying right with them. This is probably one of the best days of my life,” he said. “I’ll remember this day forever. I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, making the right decisions so I can have a good life, and be there to live a good life with my family.”