New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Tuesday that he will not appeal the NFL’s punishment related to the team’s “deflategate” controversy.
"I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric," Kraft said of the punishment that includes the loss of multiple draft picks, a $1 million fine and a four-game suspension for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. "We won’t appeal."
Kraft said he still believed the "deflategate" report was not "fair," that there was "no hard evidence" to prove team personnel purposefully deflated footballs below approved levels and that the punishment was "way over the top," "unreasonable and unprecedented." But he ultimately decided not to appeal because he believed Goodell was "doing what he perceives to be in the best interests of the full 32."
"What I’ve learned over the last two decades is that the heart and soul and strength of the NFL is a partnership of 32 teams," he said at another point in the press conference. "And what’s become very clear over those very two decades is at no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32."
Later in the statement, Kraft told Patriots fans that he made the decision with the best interest of the team in mind.
"Now I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision," Kraft said, according to a transcript of the statement provided by Mike Garafolo. "But I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time, taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL, and I hope you all can respect that."
Kraft refused to answer questions after making the statement. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Brady will continue on with his own separate appeal of the suspension.
Robert Kraft says Patriots will not appeal discipline against his team, reluctantly. Tom Brady's appeal of his 4-game suspension will go on.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 19, 2015
There are already conspiracy theories afoot that Kraft had some insider info that made the decision not to appeal, shall we say, a tad easier? Insider information, for example, like the possibility that the league might eventually agree to reduce Brady's suspension without Kraft's help.
Knee-jerk cynical guess: League has given the Patriots a back-channel promise that they're going to cut Tom Brady's suspension on appeal.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 19, 2015