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Thursday September 21, 2017
Posted: May 19, 2015

Kraft pulls a stunner with Deflategate about-face. Is he sincere?

Sidelines: Central Maine Sports Blog

Six days before the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks would play one of the most entertaining — if not the greatest — Super Bowls in history, Robert Kraft stepped to a podium for an impromptu news conference and addressed the Deflategate scandal.

The embattled Patriots owner defiantly defended his organization, saying, “If the (Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to coach Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they’ve had to endure this week. I’m disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts rather than circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.”

Fast forward to Tuesday when a less-defiant Kraft again stepped to a podium and again addressed Deflategate, only this time he sounded like the one on the cusp of issuing an apology.

Speaking from San Francisco at the annual NFL owners meetings on Tuesday, Kraft appeared to surrender when he announced he would not appeal the harsh penalties levied by the NFL — forfeiture of two draft picks (one coming in the first round) and a $1 million fine — for the team’s role in Deflategate.

“Although I might disagree what is decided, I do have respect for (commissioner Roger Goodell) and believe that he’s doing what he perceives to be in the best interests of (all 32 teams),” Kraft said. “So in that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months.

“I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. We won’t appeal.”

Bob Kraft

Kraft went on to say that he hoped Patriot fans would accept/respect his decision.

Good luck there, Mr. Kraft.

Many Patriots fans who’ve come under siege throughout the saga have been hoping, demanding even, that Kraft would roll up his dress shirt sleeves and challenge the big, bad NFL to a white-knuckle throwdown.

They applauded when Tom Brady appealed his four-game suspension and retained prominent attorney Jeffrey Kessler, a known proverbial thorn in the NFL’s side.

That applause intensified when experts, a scientist and even some members of the national media began challenging the now famous Ted Wells report, which found it was “more probable than not” that the Patriots, and Brady in particular, manipulated the footballs in the AFC championship game against the hapless Colts.

A showdown with Sheriff Goodell, one that many predicted would end in court, seemed imminent.

Patriots fans, beaten but still breathing, could taste retribution.

And then Kraft conceded. He stepped to a microphone and told the nation that his team would not challenge the punishment. The fight was over.

The reaction came quick, too, as fans flooded airwaves and message boards to vent. Boston sports talk radio was abuzz Tuesday afternoon with irate and distraught Patriots fans, whom seemed less than willing to accept Kraft’s abandonment.

What happened between the Super Bowl and Tuesday, some asked? Why give up? Why let Goodell win?

Kraft said Tuesday that it was in the best interests of the team, the fans and (of course) the NFL that he end — not extend — the fight.

Conspiracy theorists insist that Goodell and Kraft brokered a deal behind closed doors, one that would let Brady walk away with his reputation (somewhat) in place. Should Kraft drop his fight, the league would scale back its punishment of Brady.

While many fans no doubt would take the deal, the question still remains: If the Patriots sincerely felt they did nothing wrong, that the Ted Wells investigation was a sham at best, then why give up anything?

 

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