SAN FRANCISCO — In the end, Robert Kraft did what’s best for business.
New England Patriots fans are understandably upset at their team’s owner, who chose to move on and accept the NFL’s discipline for Deflategate despite the lack of clear evidence of any wrongdoing from Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick or any of the coaching staff.
Kraft accurately predicted Patriots fans’ reaction to his choice not to appeal the NFL’s discipline.
“I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision,” Kraft said Tuesday. “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. I hope you all can respect that.”
Fans might have been blindsided, but the bombshell Kraft dropped shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The Patriots would have had to take the NFL to court, which means dragging out the Deflategate scandal even longer. Kraft’s clear message as he addressed the collected media was he didn’t want to drag out this process any longer.
“The one thing that we all can agree upon is the entire process has taken way too long,” Kraft said. “I don’t think anyone can believe that after four months (since) the AFC Championship Game we are still talking about air pressure and the psi in footballs.”
The Patriots are out a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, a fourth-rounder in 2017 and $1 million. It’s unlikely they lost any fans, however, despite the post-presser reaction from Patriot Nation.
Kraft has done too much for the Patriots to lose their fanbase’s support. He helped keep the Patriots in Foxboro and has brought four Super Bowl titles to New England over the past 15 years. The hurt over the loss of draft picks will pass, and another winning season in 2015 will help ease the pain.
Having Tom Brady’s suspension reduced or overturned could help propel the Patriots to another division title, and Kraft’s decision to move on could persuade commissioner Roger Goodell to go easy on the QB. Kraft certainly made Goodell’s life easier Tuesday.
A “high-ranking NFL source” told Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bedard a deal between the Patriots and Goodell to reduce Brady’s four-game suspension wasn’t in place before Kraft’s statement. Bedard acknowledged an NFL official might not want to admit to a quid pro quo.
The Patriots obviously didn’t want to lose a first-round draft pick, but that wasn’t a fight they were likely to win, despite the shoddily-assembled Wells Report. Brady’s suspension could be reduced or overturned, however, either by Goodell or a judge. The NFL Players Association and the league are constantly at one another’s throats while NFL owners fighting against the establishment is rare and brash.
Kraft wasn’t willing to take on the league, but Brady and NFLPA seem happy to put up a fight.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP