New England Patriots: Gronk laid up, Hernandez embroiled in homicide investigation

The New England Patriots offseason of horrors for their stable of talented tight ends has taken another turn, this one right up an alley into the surreal – grim news out of North Attleboro has Patriots Nation asking how much more the team can absorb without losing their season before it begins.

While the “Batman” of their dynamic duo lies recovering in a Los Angeles hospital after undergoing back surgery Tuesday morning, “Robin”, aka Aaron Hernandez, has become the media focus of a criminal investigation in Massachusetts.

Somewhere in Gotham, the Joker is smiling.

The news out of Los Angeles is encouraging, sources telling the NFL Network that Rob Gronkowski’s back procedure went very well, and he should be ready for contact toward the end of preseason.

The same can not be said for the investigation of a suspected homicide, the body of a man that was discovered by a jogger on Monday evening in an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez’s home linked to the Patriots’ tight end as possibly an “associate of number 81″.

Of course, Hernandez wears 81 for the Patriots.

Several major news outlets have reported that police sought and were granted a search warrant for Hernandez’s home in connection with the investigation, and that two men that were in Hernandez’ home when police arrived attempted to leave but were detained by officers.

Though authorities are claiming that Hernandez is not a suspect, the fact that a search warrant was issued and people detained in his home does not bode well for the new father and suddenly wealthy University of Florida product.  If it turns out that either of the men had anything to do with the alleged homicide, the consequences to Hernandez could be far reaching – though it is important to remember that Hernandez is not considered a suspect at this time.

At issue is a rented 2013 Chevrolet Suburban with Rhode Island license plates being a “vehicle of interest” in the case. It is reported that the vehicle is registered to Enterprise, and that Hernandez’s name is tied to the rental vehicle, though the police are releasing few details at this time.

A Patriots’ spokesperson issued a statement, reading, “I am aware of the reports, but I do not anticipate we will be commenting publicly during an ongoing police investigation.”

Though rumor and speculation are running rampant, there are confirmed reports that Hernandez has been uncooperative with police, which could mean anything from refusing to speak without an attorney present to not allowing authorities into his house without a warrant.

SI.com, ABCNews.com and USA Today are reporting sources.

Tags: Aaron Hernandez Rob Gronkowski

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