- Many around the league expect no punishment for the Patriots owner. But charges being dropped—or never filed at all—has never stopped the NFL from suspending players anyway.
Our own Albert Breer reported on Thursday from the owners meetings that Robert Kraft is emerging from the shadows a bit. The Patriots owner, who was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution back in February, might be doing so given the recent momentum in his legal battle. Ten days ago, video evidence of the act was tossed in court amid a cannon blast of motions from his high-priced legal team. Everything else for the prosecution seems to have come undone since.
With that in mind, Breer polled a few insiders who said that Kraft may not receive a punishment at all:
One NFC team exec answered, “No, nor should he be.” An owner from another NFC team, when asked the same question, said, “I’d be pretty surprised if he was.”
And while that’s under commissioner Roger Goodell’s purview and would jibe with his protect-the-ruling-mob mentality, it would be a mistake. We’re not here to get self righteous about Kraft’s infraction. However, even if charges are dismissed or he is found not guilty, the conduct was clearly detrimental for the league. Why should he escape league sanctions when so many players have not?
I asked this Morning Huddle’s editor, Gary Gramling, if, off the top of his head (and with a little help from Wikipedia), he could think of any players suspended by the league despite not being arrested or charged: Ezekiel Elliott, Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston, Kareem Hunt, Jimmy Smith. Adding to the partial list, Nigel Bradham and T.J. Ward were each suspended despite having charges dismissed after pre-trial intervention.
CBA negotiations are coming soon. Any positivity the league cultivated with their recent pivot on marijuana and mental health could be burned by the perception that they’re willing to go above and beyond to protect one of their own, while being quick to punish players despite the legal outcomes. Perhaps this is an overly simplistic analysis of the current state-of-play, but, for an NFL player, wouldn’t that be how they’d digest it?
There’s no doubt Goodell is staring down an impossible situation from his perspective, as he works for the 32 owners he’s also charged with holding accountable. But in this case he may need to consider the collateral damage at a time when relationship building on all fronts is advantageous.
Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Sign up for The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.
NOW ON THE MMQB: Jonathan Jones on the Bible Belt, and the state of gambling in the Carolinas….. Andy Benoit goes long on his “All Small” team…. A look at the league’s arena football roots, and why the indoor game’s influence is spreading.
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: David Irving opens up about his marijuana use, and why the NFL shouldn’t get credit for keeping an open mind…. Eric Weddle reveals the secrets behind his stellar safety play…. Why minority candidates should steer clear of the Jets’ GM opening.
1. How many lies did Adam Gase tell during his press conference Thursday?
2. After signing Julian Edelman to a long-term deal, the Patriots go to work on replacing him with similar, out-of-nowhere plucky white wideout.
3. It’s Nick Bosa’s hamstring, not his tweets, causing trouble in San Francisco.
4. Area diva skips organized team activities.
5. Legendary Orioles shortstop may have signed a painting by serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at firstname.lastname@example.org