SAN FRANCISCO — Robert Kraft dropped a bombshell on the media gathered at the Ritz-Carlton for the NFL Spring Meeting.
The New England Patriots won’t appeal the NFL’s discipline over the Deflategate scandal.
“You know, what I’ve learned over the last two decades is that the heart and soul and strength of the NFL is a partnership of 32 teams,” Kraft said. “And what’s become very clear over those very two decades is at no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32. So I have a way of looking at problems that are very strong in my mind, and before I make a final decision, I measure nine times and I cut once. And I think maybe if I had made the decision last week it would be different than it is today.
“But believing in the strength of the partnership, and the 32 teams — we have concentrated the adjudication of problems in the office of commissioner. And although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for the commissioner and believe that he’s doing what he perceives to be in the best interests of the full 32. So in that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. And we won’t appeal.
“Now, I know that a lot of Patriot fans are going to be disappointed in that decision. But I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL. And I hope you all can respect that.
“You know, I would normally take questions, but my desire is truly not to continue the rhetoric, and so I’m going to leave this discussion exactly here. Thank you very much.”
The Patriots were stripped of a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2017. They also were fined $1 million — an NFL record.
The Patriots’ choice to accept their discipline won’t affect quarterback Tom Brady’s appeal, the NFL Players Association’s George Atallah tweeted Tuesday.
“The Patriots may not appeal, but this will not impact the NFLPA appeal of the 4 game suspension of Tom Brady,” Atallah said.
Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly were spotted hugging after the league dropped discipline on the Patriots. The Patriots and the NFL also reportedly were engaged in “back-channel conversations” before the spring meeting officially began Tuesday.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images