The New England Patriots are at war with the National Football League.
Team owner Robert Kraft made that clear Wednesday morning at a press conference at Gillette Stadium, saying that he was wrong to have put his faith in the league.
“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 matter would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady. Unfortunately, I was wrong,” Kraft said. “I’ve 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.”
Kraft not only went on the attack against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but also indirectly slammed ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen. Mortensen tweeted two days after the AFC Championship Game: “The NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by two pounds each, per league sources.”
In the Wells Report, it was stated that only one of the Patriots’ 12 balls was two pounds under the limit. Only one of the gauges used in the testing found it two pounds under as well.
“The league’s handling of this entire process has been extremely frustrating and disconcerting,” Kraft 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 shared public opinion.”
Yahoo! Sports reporter Charles Robinson tweeted out Wednesday morning that, “Patriots officials have long believed the reason the NFL didn’t correct erroneous ESPN ball inflation numbers is because the NFL[itself] leaked the info.”
Kraft accepted the team fine of $1 million from the initial Deflategate punishment in May and the team is still scheduled to be docked a first round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth round draft pick in 2017.
With Kraft now publicly and fully on board in the Patriots’ fight against the NFL, the three figureheads (Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and Kraft) of the league’s most successful franchise have officially turned New England into this generation’s Oakland Raiders.
“Yesterday’s decision by commissioner Goodell 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,” Kraft said. “Tom Brady is a person of great integrity and is a great ambassador of the game, both on and off the field. Yet for reasons that I cannot comprehend, there are those in the league office who are more determined to prove that they are right rather than admit any culpability of their own or take responsibility for the initiation of a process and ensuing investigation that was flawed.
“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.”