Citing a desire to end this now, Patriots owner Bob Kraft announced that he will “reluctantly” accept the NFL’s penalties for Ballghazi: New England will pay its $1 million fine and lose two draft picks.
Pro Football Talk has a full transcript of Kraft’s remarks, delivered at the league’s spring meetings in San Francisco. Here are the key passages:
“I have two options: I can try to end it, or extend it. And I have given a lot of thought to both options.
“You know, what I’ve learned over the last two decades is that the heart and soul and strength of the NFL is a partnership of 32 teams. And what’s become very clear over those very two decades is at no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32. So I have a way of looking at problems that are very strong in my mind, and before I make a final decision, I measure nine times and I cut once. And I think maybe if I had made the decision last week it would be different than it is today.
“But believing in the strength of the partnership, and the 32 teams — we have concentrated the adjudication of problems in the office of commissioner. And although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for the commissioner and believe that he’s doing what he perceives to be in the best interests of the full 32. So in that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. And we won’t appeal.”
Kraft did not take questions.
Kraft made clear that he still disagrees with Roger Goodell, claiming the investigation wasn’t fair and found “no hard evidence.” He said the penalties were “way over the top, it was unreasonable and unprecedented.” But he’s willing to be a martyr for a bigger cause—NFL solidarity. This is a point I’ve made before, but it bears repeating now that Kraft has vocalized it—NFL owners seem keen with Goodell’s swinging-dick act until it swings their way. Kraft, as one of the league’s most powerful owners, has now set the precedent that even when the target of arbitary discipline, an owner should be quiet and accept it. Protect the shield.
Of course, this doesn’t affect the NFLPA’s pending appeal of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. But given the reported “back-channel” talks between the league and the Patriots, here’s a conspiracy theory that feels like it could very well be true (“more probable than not,” you might say):