Patriots' Robert Kraft expects NFL apology if no Deflategate wrongdoing
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said at a press conference Monday night that the NFL should apologize to the organization if it finds the Patriots didn't commit any wrongdoing in Deflategate, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Kraft was also adamant in defending the Patriots, saying he believes "unconditionally" that the organization hasn't done anything "inappropriate," according to NFL Network's Albert Breer.
“If the Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the League would apologize to our entire team and in particular, Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week. I am disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.
“In closing, I would like to say to all the fans of the National Football League, and especially the amazing fans of the New England Patriots, that I and our entire organization believe strongly in the integrity of the game and the rules of fair play properly, equitably and fairly enforced. Thank you.”
Kraft's strongly worded comments came after Bill Belichick's press conference on Saturday, in which the Patriots coach was similarly insistent on New England's innocence in the matter. On Monday, Belichick deflected further questions about the matter, saying his attention was "turned fully to the Seattle Seahawks."
The NFL is currently investigating the Patriots over their use of under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game, an operation that lead investigator Ted Wells said Monday will last "at least several more weeks."
It was reported earlier Monday that the league's inquiry is now focused on a Patriots locker room attendant who was in possession of game balls before kickoff. It's unclear if the attendant committed any wrongdoing.
The NFL reportedly concluded that 11 of 12 footballs allocated to the Patriots were under-inflated by two pounds of air pressure during the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has also denied involvement in "Deflategate."
New England went on to defeat the Colts 45-7, earning a trip to Super Bowl XLIX. The Patriots play the Seahawks on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.
- Ben Estes