New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft will be treated just like a player if he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy, according to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The 77-year-old widower was recently charged with two counts of soliciting sex in a Florida prostitution investigation. He was reportedly caught on surveillance video engaging in sex acts during two visits to Orchid’s Day Spa in Jupiter. The case is still being adjudicated.
“The personal conduct policy applies to everybody – commissioners, owners, executives, players, coaches, and it will be applied to everybody,” said Goodell. “But it will be done after we get all the facts, we have all the information, and we’ll be fair and smart about it. And that’s what we’ll do.”
The NFL is generally very protective of its image, and doesn’t take kindly to those who work in the league tarnishing it.
“It is a privilege to be part of the National Football League,” the personal conduct policy states. “Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from ‘conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in’ the NFL,” the Personal Conduct Policy states. “This includes owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials, and employees of the league office, NFL Films, NFL Network, or any other NFL business.”
The policy goes on to say, “Conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL.”
If the long-time Patriots owner is found guilty, he could be fined and/or suspended by the commissioner, just like players who run afoul of the law.
In fact, Goodell could actually be more heavy-handed with Kraft, if guilty, since the policy states: “Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the Personal Conduct Policy occur.”
One example of Goodell punishing an owner severely came in 2014, when Indianapolis Colts boss Jimmy Irsay plead guilty to drunk driving and was suspended for six games and fined $500,000.
Kraft issued a statement apologizing on March 23:
“I am truly sorry,” Kraft said. “I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”
However, even though he apologized, on March 26, Kraft plead not guilty to the solicitation charges, and asked for a jury trial. He waived his right to an arraignment and is scheduled to make a court appearance on April 9 in West Palm Beach.