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Albany native Deion Branch, left, wasn’t just teammates the past two seasons with Aaron Hernandez — they were also neighbors in the North Attleborough, Mass., neighborhood where Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder this week by police. Branch told The Herald on Saturday he was shocked by the news of a player he called his "great friend."

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Branch on ‘friend’ Hernandez: ‘It was shocking’

While others around the New England Patriots organization are distancing themselves from embattled NFL star tight end Aaron Hernandez, Albany’s Deion Branch becomes the first former teammate to speak out on behalf of Hernandez, who was charged with murder this week and faces life in prison.

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