Robert Kraft doesn't back down from Patriots' Deflategate defense
HOUSTON – Robert Kraft isn’t apologizing.
The New England Patriots owner has been asked to comment numerous times about the NFL’s handling of Deflategate, in which the league accused quarterback Tom Brady of involvement in keeping balls underinflated before the AFC Championship Game in the 2014 season.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2016 regular season, and popular thinking is that Sunday’s matchup in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons would have special meaning for the franchise after the legal jostling of the past two years.
At Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, Kraft was asked why he has been so outspoken in defense of his team.
“Well, everyone wants to protect their family,” Kraft told reporters. “I think our family was involved, or accused of being involved, in something that was mishandled and inappropriate, became a big distraction. Leadership is about stepping up when it’s the appropriate time and then making sure everyone knows that we’re all on the same page.
“Sometimes when you’re in complicated situations in a business, people start pointing fingers, and we want to assure everyone that we’re all together. When tough times come – actually, this is something in the Old Testament – there’s nothing bad that happens that doesn’t have good associated with it, if you manage it properly, and I think, in a way, that galvanized our whole team. We came very close last year, just at the end up in Denver, not getting to this game. We’re really pleased we were able to get to this game. It has been sort of a peaceful year, and we hope we have the privilege of winning on Sunday.”
The Patriots marched to a 14-2 record as the AFC’s No. 1 seed and have a chance to win their fifth Super Bowl championship since the 2011 season.
Two weeks after the accusations became public in 2015, Kraft held an unscheduled news conference in which he demanded an apology from the league if Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick were cleared after the investigation.
Monday night, with another Super Bowl on the horizon, Kraft didn’t back down.
“You know what, I’ll leave you with this thought,” Kraft said. “Jealousy and envy are incurable diseases. If you’re going to play in that field, it’s nice that people have a reason to look at you and play it. But that’s the way of the world and we’ll try to take it in and turn it into something that’s an advantage.”
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.
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