Like most people in New England, Bob Kraft is a true believer in all things Patriots. Usually that would be a good thing, but on the day Aaron Hernandez was handcuffed and then charged with first degree murder it was anything but.

“If this stuff is true, I’ve been duped and our whole organization has been duped,” a sad-faced Kraft said this afternoon, his first day back in Foxboro since learning of Hernandez’ arrest in North Attleboro for the murder of Odin Lloyd while he was vacationing in Europe.

“Here we have a guy who, man, it looks like had the world by the tail. He said to me he wanted to be a role model to the Hispanic community.

“He was kind enough to give a check (for $50,000 from the $40 million contract extension given to him by Kraft last August, that included $16 million in guaranteed money) for my beloved wife’s memorial charity. He said we’d given him a second chance and I believed him. He was the most likeable young man. This is all sad to me. Very sad.”

Speaking publicly for the first time against the advice of his attorneys, Kraft said he felt the need for the public to hear from the organization — and frankly he is the organization. One can talk all they want about Bill Belichick or anyone else but when push comes to shove one voice dominates all others in Foxboro and it is Kraft’s. The team is still here because he kept it here and it will be here long after Belichick and Tom Brady are gone and so on his first day back in his office he spoke from the heart.

Reading from a prepared text before taking questions Kraft said, “I want to thank each of you for coming here today. Today is my first business day back in the country since Aaron’s arrest; I arrived back in the country on Saturday. I want to establish up front that I have to be limited in what I talk about today as there is an ongoing criminal investigation, as well as other potential civil proceedings. In regards to that, I have been advised by my General Counsel to limit the subject matter of our discussion today. That being said, I do think it is important that our fan base hear directly from our organization. Also, out of respect to each of you and the organizations you represent, I wanted to do this face to face and not over the phone from Europe.

“Following Aaron’s arrest, I read a number of different accounts of how things transpired in our organization. Let me be clear, we decided the week prior to Aaron’s arrest that if Aaron was arrested in connection with the Lloyd murder case that we would cut him immediately after. The rationale behind that decision was that if any member of the New England Patriots organization is close enough to a murder investigation to actually get arrested — whether it be for obstruction of justice or the crime itself, it is too close to an unthinkable act for that person to be part of this organization going forward.”

Kraft then began a 40-minute discussion of the matter during which he produced a letter signed by Hernandez sent from his agent — David Dunn’s Athletes First — dated April 16, 2010, addressing concerns many NFL teams had about what he called “my alleged use of marijuana” prior to the upcoming draft.

In a letter signed by Hernandez, he offered to “submit to a bi-weekly drug test throughout my rookie season (eight drug tests during the 2010 regular season). In addition, I will tie any guaranteed portion of my 2010 compensation to these drug tests and reimburse the team a pro-rata amount for any failed drug test.”

The letter goes on to point out such an agreement would be barred by the NFL Players Association so Hernandez was authorizing his agents to come up with a creative way to do it, including possibly donating to the team’s choice of charities. “My point is simple — if I fail a drug test, I do not deserve that portion of the money.

“I realize that this offer is somewhat unorthodox but it is also the only way I could think of to let you know how serious I am about reaching my potential in the NFL.”

The letter went on to discuss his work habits and impact on an offense, concluding, “The only X-factor, according to the reports I have heard, is concerns about my use of recreational drugs. To address that concern I am literally putting my money where my mouth is and taking the financial risk away from the team and putting it directly on my back where it belongs.

“In closing, I ask you to trust me when I say you have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to me and the use of recreational drugs.”

Kraft was impressed with the letter, he admitted, and grew to like Hernandez personally as well as professionally. He claimed he’d shown no sign of disrespect toward him or the organization while in Foxboro and in fact, according to Belichick, had his best training camp after the $40 million extension was negotiated and he’d received $9.5 million of his $12.5 million signing bonus in cash.

“I remember some players we gave some money to and they dogged it for a year or two,” Kraft said. “He had the best camp of any player. We made a business decision. We paid for performance. Obviously it wasn’t the correct decision. We’re just sorry for what the Lloyd family has to go through. They lost a son, a brother. It’s sad. I don’t understand why things happen like that. I got duped to be honest. He knew how to push my buttons.”