SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — New England Patriots team owner Robert Kraft says he will reluctantly accept the National Football League’s punishment handed out last week over the use of deflated footballs in last year’s AFC championship game.
Kraft made the comments during this week’s NFL’s May owners meetings in San Francisco.
Commissioner Roger Goodell gave Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a four-game suspension. The team received a $1 million fine, loss of a first-round draft pick next year and a fourth-rounder in 2017.
Kraft wouldn’t take questions during his brief announcement because he did not want to “extend the rhetoric.” Kraft has been portrayed in the last few days as angry, frustrated, even defiant.
The NFL requires a range of 12.5-13.5 pounds per square inch. Footballs with less pressure can be easier to grip and catch. Some quarterbacks prefer footballs that have less air, and Brady played a role in a 2006 rewriting of the rules that allowed visiting teams to supply the footballs it would use on offense.
In an 243-page report, attorney Ted Wells, an NFL-hired investigator, concluded Brady probably knew that Patriots employees had a role in deflating footballs.
The report didn’t find any evidence that team owner Robert Kraft, Belichick or the coaching staff knew anything about deflating balls. But it found some of Brady’s claims implausible in explaining why balls were underinflated.
Wells said it was “more probable than not” that two Patriots employees — officials’ locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski — executed the plan.
For his trouble, McNally asked for expensive shoes and signed footballs, jerseys and cash. He brokered the deals over a series of salty text messages with Jastremski that portray Brady as a hard-to-please taskmaster. “F— Tom,” one read.
The report cites evidence that McNally took the game balls into a bathroom adjacent to the field, and stayed there for about 100 seconds — “an amount of time sufficient to deflate thirteen footballs using a needle.”