New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft ripped the NFL on Wednesday for its refusal to alter Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for Deflategate, calling the decision “unfathomable.”
Appearing at the team’s headquarters, Kraft not only blasted the NFL for its manipulation of the media but also apologized to the team’s fans for putting his trust in the NFL to act properly, stating, “I was wrong to put my faith in the league.”
Kraft began his statement by asserting, “I felt it was important to make a statement today, prior to the start of training camp. After this, I will not be talking about this matter until after the legal process plays itself out, and I would advise everyone in the organization to do the same and just concentrate on preparation for the 2015 season.”
The decision handed down by the league yesterday is unfathomable to me. It is routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal. In the vast majority of these cases, there is tangible and hard evidence of the infraction for which the discipline is being imposed, and still the initial penalty gets reduced. Six months removed from the AFC championship game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs. I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady. I first and foremost need to apologize to our fans, because I truly believe what I did in May, given the actual evidence of the situation and the league’s history on discipline matters, would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
Kraft then targeted the league for how it portrayed the initial incident and the recent information that Brady “destroyed his cellphone” to the media. He said:
I will never understand why an initial erroneous report regarding the PSI level of footballs was leaked by a source from the NFL a few days after the AFC Championship Game, [and] was never corrected by those who had the correct information. For four months, that report cast aspersions and shaped public opinion. Yesterday’s decision by the commissioner was released in a similar manner, under an erroneous headline that read, “Tom Brady destroyed his cellphone.” This headline was designed to capture headlines across the country and obscure evidence regarding the tampering of air pressure in footballs. 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 that they requested, including head coach Bill Belichick.
Praising Brady for his integrity, Kraft blasted the NFL for its lack of it, asserting, “I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just. Back in May, I had to make a difficult decision that I now regret. I tried to do what I thought was right. I chose not to take legal action. I wanted to return the focus to football.” He added, “I was willing to accept the harshest penalty in the history of the NFL for an alleged ball violation because I believed it would help exonerate Tom.”
He concluded, “Once again, I want to apologize to the fans of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. I was wrong to put my faith in the league. Given the facts, evidence, and laws of science that underscore this entire situation, it is completely incomprehensible to me that the league continues to take steps to disparage one of its all-time great players, and a man for whom I have the utmost respect. Personally, this is very sad and disappointing to me.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick would not speak about the Brady suspension, simply telling reporters, “It’s already been addressed.” Belichick did imply that he has spoken to Brady, saying he talks to his players every day.