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Review: “The Dynasty” Episode 6 – At All Costs



Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots listens during his murder trial at the Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River, Mass., Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. Hernandez is accused in the June 17, 2013, killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancée's sister. (AP Photo/Dominick Reuter, Pool)

The New England Patriots’ incredible run under the trio of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady is being captured in a docuseries called “The Dynasty” on Apple TV. Patriots Football Now will be reviewing each episode. There will be ‘spoilers’ about the content of the episodes in these reviews, but presumably, anyone reading already knows the outcomes of the actual events.

The sixth episode of “The Dynasty” begins where the outro of Episode 5 of the docuseries left off, featuring New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Opening Montage

The episode begins with a montage of what is to come. It starts with a photoshoot, presumably for the team, or Aaron Hernandez being instructed to pose for the camera. First, he goes so looking tough, and then he does one smiling. The shot is a closeup of Hernadez grinning ear to ear when they cut to a present-day Deion Branch.

Branch was a longtime wide receiver for the Patriots, a champion, and a Super Bowl MVP. But here he is emotionally speaking about being close to Hernandez. Years later it appears he is still beating himself up a bit for not seeing more of what was happening.

It then cuts to news coverage of Hernandez’s arrest and the death of Odin Lloyd. A news reporter asks if the NFL has its first serial killer.

2010 NFL Draft

Anyone reading this is certainly familiar with the Aaron Hernandez situation to some extent, so obviously this episode is going to take a dark turn at some point. But it does start on a positive note. Robert Kraft is talking about how important the 2010 NFL Draft is for the New England Patriots, with their core players having gotten older.

They show New England calling in the pick for Devin McCourty. McCourty is shown, speaking presently, of what an honor it was to be drafted by the Patriots. How that draft class took pride in ushering in the next wave of greatness for the franchise.

The next draft pick called in is tight end Rob Gronkowski. Then Gronkowski tells the story of celebrating on stage at the NFL Draft with his family. He then gets a call saying the Patriots think he can get off the stage now. Gronkowski feigns shock over being in trouble five minutes after joining the Patriots and picturing Bill Belichick in the draft room wondering why they drafted him.

It cuts to a video of Belichick in the draft room, with Gronkowski celebrating at the draft wearing a Patriots helmet.

“Lord have mercy,” utters the New England coach.

Belichick vs. Brady

Finally, in the fourth round, the New England Patriots selected Aaron Hernandez

Aaron Hernandez’s Character Issues

Jackie MacMullan talks about how it was known that Aaron Hernandez had some character issues heading into the draft. New England seemed aware of these as well. However, at the time it seemed like it was a good gamble.

“First-round value with a fourth-round pick,” explains Ernie Adams. And if Hernandez runs into any trouble in the NFL, New England can just cut him without much loss.

Bob Hohler, a reporter for The Boston Globe who has covered the Hernandez saga at length, gives a summary of the above-referenced “character issues” known to exist with Hernandez. Hohler recounts how Hernandez fell in with the wrong crowd at age 16 in Bristol, Conn. after his father had passed away. Hernandez became a huge football star and committed to the University of Florida.

Florida coach Urban Meyer insists on Hernandez going down to there to train in the spring of what should have been his senior year of high school. Hernandez was barely 17 at that time. He ended up getting into a fight over a $12 tab at a bar. He punches the bar manager in the head and ruptures their eardrum. However, Hernandez does not get into any trouble. Florida has a “fixer” who takes care of everything, allowing Hernandez to continue playing for the Gators.

At age 17 it becomes clear to Aaron Hernandez that rules do not apply to him.

Hernandez Joins the NFL

Aaron Hernandez is shown at the NFL’s 2010 Rookie Symposium. It is an annual event to help prepare rookies for what will await them with their newfound fame, money, and professional responsibilities. Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter is speaking at the event, talking about how he was let go by Philadelphia for being unreliable. He then became a star player with the Minnesota Vikings.

Hernandez asks a question from the group, wondering what Carter did to turn things around. Carter explains that he took accountability for his actions, took care of himself, got into shape, stopped messing around, and told his old friends “Don’t call me.”

(Note: this was not the same symposium where Cris Carter recommended that players have a “fall guy” willing to take the blame who has less to lose. That occurred in 2014)

It then quickly goes through Hernandez’s first two seasons in the NFL. From training camp to the Patriots’ loss in Super Bowl 46 in a rematch with the New York Giants. McCourty talks about how confident he is that they will be back despite the loss. They had gone 14-2 in 2010 and won the AFC Championship in 2011.

While this would be true for McCourty and Gronkowski, it would not be the case for Aaron Hernadez.

The Final Season

Before the 2012 season began, Aaron Hernandez was signed to a massive contract extension. It would be his third and final year in the National Football League.

Hernandez talked about how appreciative he was about his new deal and remaining with the New England Patriots for the long term. He mentioned the responsibilities that come along with that.

“You can’t come here and act reckless and do your own stuff,” said Hernandez.

Over a decade later, Boston media member Michael Holley somehow gathered that Hernandez was laying out breadcrumbs of clues to something more ominous. “Reckless?”

Robert Kraft is shown in file footage talking to Bill Belichick about what a good guy he thinks Hernandez is and how he has a good heart. Modern-day Kraft then recounts how Hernandez used to always kiss him on the cheek and he thought the player viewed the owner as a “loving paternal figure.” Kraft also recounts Hernandez giving him a check for $50,000 in support of a fund in honor of his late wife Myra Kraft who had passed away from ovarian cancer.

Players Perspective on “Chico”

Brandon Lloyd was an NFL veteran who was entering his tenth season in 2012 but his first in New England. He describes a “troubling undercurrent” around Hernandez. He said he was immediately warned by Wes Welker about having his locker next to Hernandez. Welker advised that Hernandez was going to say and do lewd, grotesque, and disturbing things. Lloyd just had to ignore him.

Welker recounts that it was, “pretty glaring there were issues.”

Lloyd talked about how Aaron Hernandez could snap in an instant, using MF’er and saying, “I’ll kill you.” This did not sit well with his new teammate, who claimed there was no response from his head coach.

Wes Welker wondered why Bill Belichick tolerated it. “Why does he love this guy?”

Deion Branch was often counted on to be the voice of reason for Hernandez and to keep things under control. Ernie Adams concedes there were reports of Hernandez, “hanging with his boys from Bristol.”

Branch, again getting emotional, recounts that they did seem to have things under control on the field and in the locker room. But Hernandez, “couldn’t separate himself from that dark side.”

The Murder of Odin Lloyd

The next segment switches to local news stories of Odin Lloyd’s death.

“So wild how fast everything just changed,” remembers Branch.

News footage then switches to Aaron Hernandez as a suspect. New stations attempt to interview him pumping gas, and then follow him as he runs into the New England Patriots facilities.

Robert Kraft hears Hernandez is in the weight room and says he went down to talk to him. Kraft asks Hernandez if he did it, stating if he did there was certainly a good reason and he would pay for his defense himself.

Kraft states Hernandez looked him in the eye and said, “Mr. Kraft, I didn’t do that.”

“I can’t believe I got snookered like that,” says Kraft.


Jonathan Kraft recounts Aaron Hernandez being arrested. He states that both Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick were out of the country at the time, but a decision had to be made. He believed they needed to cut ties with Hernandez immediately.

“Bill (Belichick)’s instinct was, play this f*cking thing out,” remembered Jonathan Kraft. Hernandez had not been found guilty yet and he was a valuable player.

Four Weeks Later

Bill Belichick is shown at a press conference addressing the situation with Aaron Hernandez. He says very little, only the obvious that nobody wants a member of the organization involved in a murder investigation. He did not want to elaborate due to the ongoing investigation.

Bob Hohler is then shown again, saying how Hernandez was dead to the Patriots at that point. Belichick advised the team not to speak about Aaron Hernandez moving forward.

Tom Brady is shown speaking to reporters at the time, saying the team was just looking to move forward the best they know how.

Hohler then details another shooting that Hernandez was reportedly responsible for. He says that Hernandez had met with Bill Belichick and advised him that he wanted a trade to the West Coast because his family was in danger. He needed to get away from New England. Belichick offered to get security for Hernandez, which was refused. Hohler explains that Belichick would never speak about the decision not to trade Hernandez.

Bill Belichick is then shown present-day being asked about the trade request by docuseries director Matthew Hamachek, “Unfortunate situation about Aaron (Hernandez) and I don’t have anything to add to it.”


Robert Kraft looks into the camera and apologizes for letting people down with how the Aaron Hernandez situation was handled.

The screen goes black and details of Hernandez’s legal issues and death by suicide in prison.

Episode 5 Review: 2/10

If it wasn’t for the Rob Gronkowski draft day recollection, and New England Patriots draft room footage, this episode might have scored a zero.

There are several issues with this episode. The story of Aaron Hernandez had to be told. Hernandez getting his own episode arguably makes sense because it is tough to mesh it in with just about anything else.

With that said it will be interesting to see if the series comes back to the 2011 season without the focus on Hernandez. A Super Bowl appearance is more than a mere footnote. But after the 2003 and 2004 teams winning back-to-back Super Bowls earned five minutes of screen time, it is not shocking.

Neither Tom Brady nor Rob Gronkowski (aside from his draft recollection) were interviewed for this episode. If neither of them wanted to speak about Aaron Hernandez, it is completely understandable. But if Brady and Gronkowski opting against speaking about the subject didn’t get air time, why did Belichick? Why show the coach saying he doesn’t have anything to add but not the others? Seems like a glaring omission.

At this point in the series, it is clear Bill Belichick will be the villain at every turn imaginable. But Bob Hohler leaving the impression that if Belichick had simply traded Hernandez as was allegedly requested everything would have been okay is beyond ludicrous.

Belichick tolerated the behavior of an out-of-control player? The man coached prime Lawrence Taylor. Belichick let stars get away with whatever they wanted? Try telling that to all the Patriots stars over the years.

This episode left the uneducated believing Bill Belichick knew exactly what he would get in Aaron Hernandez yet chose to bring him to the New England Patriots anyway. Now, over a decade later, everybody saw the warning signs and the “breadcrumbs” other than the New England coach who would have drafted Charles Manson if he could run and catch. Isn’t that what the title of the episode implies?