Now he is dead.
Hernandez was found dead, hanging from a bed sheet in his Shirley, Massachusetts, prison cell early Wednesday morning, authorities said. He was serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, for the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd. Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancée.
Just five days ago, a jury acquitted Hernandez of a 2012 double murder in Boston. Police suspected Hernandez may have been involved in those killings after they investigated the Lloyd murder.
The Patriots, who released Hernandez hours after he was arrested, told the Boston Globe the franchise had no comment on their former player's death. That will be a tough pledge for the franchise to keep, as the Patriots will be visiting the White House Wednesday to celebrate their Super Bowl win in Houston in February.
The Patriots have continued to excel in the four seasons since they released Hernandez, winning four division titles and two Super Bowls. Though the team would have undoubtedly been more dominant with Hernandez, who in his three seasons with the team completed a devastating tight end combo with Rob Gronkowski.
In his final season, in 2012, Hernandez helped the Patriots stomp the Texans, 42-14, in a Monday night game where he scored two touchdowns.
Hernandez's contract ran until 2018.