New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft decided not to fight sanctions imposed by the NFL regarding the Deflategate scandal, but stood by quarterback Tom Brady and judge Richard Berman's decision to nullify his four-game suspension.
Kraft issued the following statement on Thursday afternoon:
“As I have said during this process and throughout his Patriots career, Tom Brady is a classy person of the highest integrity. He represents everything that is great about this game and this league. Yet, with absolutely no evidence of any actions of wrongdoing by Tom in the Wells report, the lawyers at the league still insisted on imposing and defending unwarranted and unprecedented discipline. Judge Richard Berman understood this and we are greatly appreciative of his thoughtful decision that was delivered today. Now, we can return our focus to the game on the field.”
Brady is eligible to play for the Patriots as they open the season on Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell will appeal the decision in an attempt “to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game.”
The NFLPA also released a statement after the ruling, saying in part that the “decision should prove, once and for all, that our Collective Bargaining Agreement does not grant this Commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading.”
Brady was initially suspended four games after an NFL-contracted report by attorney Ted Wells asserted “it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules” and Brady was “generally aware” of the alleged scheme to deflate footballs used in the AFC championship game. Brady denied any wrongdoing.
The NFL punished the Patriots franchise by imposing a $1 million fine and the loss of a 2016 first-round pick and 2017 fourth-round pick. Kraft accepted the sanctions.
- Christopher Chavez