Nearly a year after accepting the NFL’s punishment over Deflategate, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has had a change of heart.
Kraft told reporters Monday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., that the Patriots are trying to recover the 2016 first-round draft pick lost as part of the team’s discipline over Deflategate.
“I don’t think you’ll see any momentum among our peers,” Kraft said about the other NFL owners. “I wish they would, because they could be in a similar position. We have put our best case forward, and that’s in the league’s hands now.
“… I personally wrote a letter to the commissioner, responding to his comment that if any new facts came up, he would take them into consideration. I personally believe when the league made their decision, they did not factor in the ideal gas law. They admitted that publicly. They’ve had a full year to observe Tom Brady play with all the rules of whatever the NFL was and make any judgements there. I just — we have laid it out pretty straightforward, and now it’s up to them to decide.”
Kraft said he wrote the letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over a month ago. He wouldn’t say if Goodell responded to the letter. The NFL Draft begins April 28.
It seems unlikely the NFL will give the draft pick back to the Patriots, though Kraft does make a strong case. The Patriots owner seemed to acknowledge that.
“I pray and desire,” Kraft said. “I mean, that’s part of — in this league where, think about it, I think since we’ve owned the team, in 22 years, we’ve had three seasons under .500. And you do it in this age of parity, everything is the scheduling, the salary cap, it’s very hard to compete without the lifeblood of the draft. We understand the importance, and I assure you we’ve done everything we can do that has a chance of success.”
Kraft is unhappy that the NFL won’t release the PSI data they collected during the 2015 NFL season that could potentially acquit the Patriots.
“They did their own testing, they have their results, but for whatever reason, they haven’t shared them with any of us,” Kraft said. “We actually requested at the beginning of the season that they test every game throughout the league just to do that, but they chose to do it their own way.”
Patriots fans were upset when Kraft accepted the NFL’s punishment last May at another NFL Annual Meeting. Kraft had a message to his team’s supporters.
“I want our fans to know, I empathize with the way they feel,” Kraft said. “There’s no one who wants every edge and (to) put this team in every position we can do to win — you know, and I just say, you think of the 34 years before we bought the team, and now just finished 22 years, we’ve had the privilege of going to 11 conference championship games. That’s one every other year, and I think that eight teams in this period have never gone to a conference championship game — 25 percent of the league. We’ve gone to seven Super Bowls and won 15 division championships. I don’t think anyone can doubt we’re not trying to do everything we can to put ourselves in the best position to win and have the Patriots franchise be very strong.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images