New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Tuesday fell into line with his fellow owners, saying that he will not oppose the $1 million fine and loss of two draft choices the NFL penalized the team for its role in deflate gate.
At the owners meetings, Kraft said he was putting the league before his franchise, a move that had upset Patriots Nation, because he wants to defer to Goodell and reaffirmed his faith in Goodell’s leadership of the league.
The Patriots were stripped of first- and fourth-round draft picks, fined $1 million and had Tom Brady suspended four games. The NFLPA already announced it will appeal Brady’s suspension.
“Although I might disagree in what is decided I do have respect for the commissioner,” Kraft said, adding he believes Goodell is doing what he believes is right for the NFL.
“He is doing what he perceives is in the best interest of the full 32,” Kraft said.
Kraft said acting in the best interest of the NFL – rather than merely in the interest of the Patriots – was important to him.
“What I have learned over the last two decades is that the heart and soul and strength of the NFL is the partnership of 32 teams,” he said. “It’s clear that no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the 32.”
Kraft said he was disappointed in how polarizing the issue of the Patriots discipline has dominated the NFL for much of the past four months and he wants to move past that. Patriots fans, he noted, are fervent in their support of the team. Fans of other teams are nearly just as fervent in cheering on the sanctions for New England.
“This ongoing rhetoric continues to galvanize both camps and it’s not changing,” Kraft said. ” They will never agree.”
He added, “I know Patriots fans will be disappointed in that decision,” Kraft said, “but I hope they trust my judgment that taking this off the agenda is the best thing for the Patriots, our fans and the NFL. I hope you all can respect that.”
Even in accepting the discipline, Kraft did not back off his criticism of the historic sanctions.
“I made it clear after the report came out that it was not fair,” Kraft said. “There was no hard evidence. It was circumstantial. The discipline came out way over the top. It was unreasonable and unprecedented in my opinion.”