Robert Kraft’s Apology To Patriots Fans Better Late Than Never


July 29, 2015

FOXBORO, Mass. — Robert Kraft learned an important lesson this week: Never trust NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to do the right thing.

Kraft, in a surprise statement Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, apologized to New England Patriots fans and explained why he accepted the NFL’s punishment for Deflategate in May.

As Kraft said, it was “the harshest penalty in the history of the NFL” — a first-round draft pick in 2016, a fourth-rounder in 2017 and a $1 million fine. Kraft believed Goodell would go easy on quarterback Tom Brady if the Patriots accepted their discipline but stopped short of saying there was an agreement in place in May.

Not only did Goodell uphold Brady’s four-game suspension, but he made headlines by saying the Patriots quarterback destroyed his cell phone. Brady explained Wednesday in his own statement why “destroying” his cell phone shouldn’t have been a big deal. Kraft reiterated that sentiment.

“This headline was designed to capture headlines across the country and obscure evidence regarding the tampering of air pressure in footballs,” Kraft said. “It intentionally implied nefarious behavior and minimized the acknowledgement that Tom provided the history of every number he texted during that relevant time frame. And we had already provided the league with every cellphone of every non-NFLPA employee that they requested, including head coach Bill Belichick.”

Kraft’s apology to Patriots fans is nice and necessary, but it’s not going to recoup those draft picks, and he probably should have made sure there was a deal in place with Goodell before accepting the punishment.

Patriots fans appear to be happy with their owner on social media Wednesday, so Kraft succeeded in improving his previously dismal approval rating. Fans were understandably dismayed when Kraft refused to fight the NFL, but now the owner at least has explained to fans why he gave in to the league.

Without an apology, there was a possibility Kraft would have been booed in Week 1 during the Patriots’ banner ceremony. Now he’s back to fighting the NFL, even if some of his words ring hollow without a possible course of action.

One of Kraft’s key points in May was that he wanted to end the “rhetoric” and remove Deflategate from headlines. In that regard, he failed. Deflategate has new legs after Goodell upheld Brady’s suspension, and we could still be talking about deflated footballs and Brady’s suspension a year from now.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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