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Hernandez humbled by 'surreal' contract

by: Mike Petraglia on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 7:04pm

FOXBORO -- In an outpouring of emotion and appreciation, Aaron Hernandez gave thanks to the Kraft family and the Patriots organization Monday night hours after agreeing to a five-year, $40 million extension that will keep him in a Patriots uniform through 2018. 

"This is probably one of the best days of my life," Hernandez said before the annual team gala at Gillette Stadium. "I'll remember this day forever."

As part of the contract extension, Hernandez will receive a $12.5 million signing bonus, bringing guaranteed money in the deal to $16.4 million. The money will come in handy as Hernandez acknowledged he has a child on the way. 

"It's surreal. Is it really true?," Hernandez said when asked what his reaction was to the news this morning when the deal was finalized. 

As part of the deal, Hernandez donated $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Foundation, the organization Monday night's gala benefits. Hernandez paid tribute to the late wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the owner himself. 

"He changed my life," Hernandez said. "[The contract shows] he trusts me to make me the right decision [and it] means a lot."

As for the impact of playing for head coach Bill Belichick, Hernandez was again effusive in his praise. 

"You get changed by the Bill Belichick way, you get changed by the Patriot Way." Hernandez said, adding he might be driven to tears talking about it.

For more, visit the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots and the blog It Is What It Is.