New England Patriots owner and CEO Robert Kraft said in a press conference Wednesday that he regretted his decision not to appeal the NFL's punishment of the Patriots for the team's role in Deflategate.
“I was wrong to put my faith in the league,” Kraft said.
Kraft said he did not appeal the Patriots' $1 million fine and loss of two draft picks in an attempt to help exonerate quarterback Tom Brady. He called the decision to uphold Brady's suspension “unfathomable.”
“In the vast majority of these cases, there is tangible and hard evidence of the infraction for which the discipline is being imposed, and still the initial penalty gets reduced,” Kraft said. “Six months removed from the AFC championship game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs.”
In his report, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote that evidence found during the investigation “fully supports” the allegations that Brady “was at least generally aware of... the release of air from Patriots game balls.” He added that Brady “willfully obstructed the investigation” by having his cell phone destroyed.
Brady countered with a statement of his own, saying he was “very disappointed” with the NFL's decision, and that he disagreed with the discourse surrounding the destruction of his cell phone. Brady's agent, Don Yee, added that he thought the appeal process was a “sham” because it lacked “procedural fairness.”
The NFL had offered to reduce Brady's suspension by at least half if he had apologized, admitted to failing to cooperate with Ted Wells's investigation and admitted to having knowledge about the actions of Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski during the AFC title game.
“I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either,” Brady said in his statement.
Under the terms of the suspension, Brady will be eligible to return on Oct. 18 against the Colts.
- Erin Flynn