Throughout the NFL's Deflate-Gate sage, from the time the accusations that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ordered several footballs be deflated for the AFC Championship Game in January up through the release of the Wells Report within the last two weeks, Patriots owner Robert Kraft had taken on a defiant tone against the league.
Kraft refused to believe that "[his] guys," head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, would seek an additional, possibly illegal edge in the most Darwinian sport on earth (despite previous evidence to the contrary, at least with Belichick). Kraft went so far as to demand an apology at his Super Bowl press conference in January if the Wells Report didn't "definitively determine" that the Patriots willingly engaged in the illegal deflation of footballs. Remember that?
Wow, that sure does sound like a guy who's ready to go to the mattresses for his crew, huh? I mean, Kraft REALLY has Brady's back, right? And we all know that the Wells Report determined that it was "more probable than not" that Tom Brady willingly engaged in the deflation of those footballs, or at least knew about it, and last I checked, "more probable than not" is certainly less than "definitive" on the assertion scale.
So clearly Kraft is going to lean on and hammer Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent until they apologize for dragging the good names of his golden boy quarterback and Sith lord of a head coach through the mud, right? I mean, a captain of industry like Kraft, with all of his bluster and finely pressed suits….he will follow through on his demands that the league redeem Brady and Belichick, right?
Um, yeah. Either that or he will back down, kowtow to the "greater good" of his billionaire frat buddies, and realize that in the NFL, where justice is doled out as haphazardly as it is in Westeros, you can't fight city hall.
On Tuesday, Kraft announced that the Patriots would not be appealing the Deflate-Gate sanctions against his team, which include a $1 million fine along with the loss of a first round pick in 2016 and a fourth round pick in 2017. He said that they would withdraw "reluctantly" in the spirit of squashing the "rhetoric," whatever that means. Here is Kraft's entire statement:
Now, Brady's appeal to have his four game suspension overturned remains active, but almost immediately after Kraft's miniature speech, speculation was rampant that the Patriots' owner had cut some sort of back room deal with the league — something along the lines of "Hey Bob, stand down on appealing the team punishment, and we will make sure your boy only misses two games instead of four," which would be the most Goodellian way to handle a Goodell-created clusterfuck like the Deflate-Gate punishments.
However, as Kraft's decision continued to marinate, people in the know who cover the Patriots began to debunk that speculation...
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Was told by a high-ranking NFL source that Kraft's decision to stand down does not include a deal on Brady. Surprising to me.— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) May 19, 2015
So it appears, for now at least, Brady will continue his fight against city hall, contending all the way that he knew nothing about the illegal deflation of the footballs. However, now Brady will do so with the knowledge that his owner accepts the fact that the league thinks his quarterback is a cheater.
Which is about as far from a demand for an apology as you can get. And now we know where Tom Brady ranks with Robert Kraft in the big picture. Somewhere behind peace, harmony, Roger Goodell, and his 31 owner buddies.
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