Robert Kraft was interviewed by Peter King of theMMQB.com, who described the New England Patriots owner “defiant and angry” and convinced that the punishment handed down for Deflategate was heavy-handed considering the evidence.
The strongest allegation levied by Kraft in response to the punishment — which included a four-game suspension for Tom Brady, a $US1 million fine for the team, and loss of 1st-round and 4th-round draft picks — is that he feels the NFL is biased against the Patriots and did not conduct a fair and balanced investigation.
In the interview, Kraft notes that “every inference went against [the Patriots]” in the Wells report and that the strongest penalty in NFL history was handed down without the “smoking gun:”
“This whole thing has been very disturbing,” Kraft said. “I’m still thinking things out very carefully. But when you work for something your whole life … I just get really worked up. To receive the harshest penalty in league history is just not fair. The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn’t fair. If we’re giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting. But in this report, every inference went against us … inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us. That’s the thing that really bothers me … If they want to penalise us because there’s an aroma around this? That’s what this feels like. If you don’t have the so-called smoking gun, it really is frustrating. And they don’t have it. This thing never should have risen to this level.”
While Kraft remains vocal about the investigation and punishment, he was also unwilling to comment on several important topics when pressed by King.
When asked why the Patriots suspended employees John Jastremski and Jim McNally even though Kraft claims the Patriots are innocent, Kraft refused to comment,”for what he claimed were a variety of reasons” according to King. The suspension of the two key figures in the Wells Report has been the biggest problem with the team’s attempts to poke holes in the investigation.
Kraft also refused to comment when asked if he would attempt to go against NFL bylaws and sue the league and whether or not he would remain active on league business committees. Kraft’s roles include a spot on the league broadcast committee as well as the committee that determines Commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual compensation, $US44.2 million in the most recent fiscal year.
There is also the once-close relationship between Kraft and Goodell. When asked about the current status of their relationship, Kraft responded, “You’ll have to ask him.”
At this point, the investigation has been completed and the punishment has been handed down. But it sure feels like we are just getting started.
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