Bill Belichick defers Aaron Hernandez CTE, lawsuit questions
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Friday wasn’t interested in fielding questions about the discovery that former player Aaron Hernandez had CTE, nor the subsequent filing of a lawsuit, indicating such medical and legal questions are not his area of expertise.
A report Thursday revealed Hernandez, who played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012, suffered from a “severe case” of degenerative brain disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which has been discovered in several former NFL players. It can only be diagnosed postmortem.
Hernandez was 27 when he committed suicide in prison on April 19 while serving a life sentence for murder. A lawsuit has now been filed on behalf of Hernandez’s daughter against the Patriots and NFL. Hernandez reportedly suffered from Stage 3 CTE, with Stage 4 being the most severe.
Belichick was asked Friday morning what role he plays in warning players about CTE. The Patriots head coach indicated he defers to the team’s medical staff on such matters.
“Well that’s really the whole medical questions are ones that come outside of my area,” Belichick said, via the Boston Herald. “Our medical department and medical staff covers — we cover a lot of things on the medical end,” the Patriots coach said. “Not just one specific thing, we cover a lot.”
Belichick was asked a follow-up question about how the NFL handles the CTE issue as it relates to warning players about the risks.
“Yeah, again, I’m not a doctor,” Belichick said. “I’m not a trainer. I’m a coach, so the medical department, they handle the medical part of it. I don’t do that.”
It’s not surprising that Belichick was reluctant to respond to such inquiries. First of all, the Patriots are named in the pending lawsuit, so remaining tight-lipped is advisable from a legal perspective. Secondly, Belichick is probably correct in asserting such matters are beyond his area of expertise.