Brady vows to fight on

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots owner Robert Kraft says he re­grets not chal­leng­ing penal­ties for de­flated foot­balls

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady vowed to fight his four-game sus­pen­sion on Wed­nes­day, and team owner Robert Kraft opened train­ing camp by say­ing he con­tin­ues to “be­lieve and un­equiv­o­cally sup­port” the three-time Su­per Bowl MVP.

“I was wrong to put my faith in the league,” Kraft said.

Tak­ing the podium a day af­ter NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell up­held Brady’s fourgame sus­pen­sion, Kraft an­grily tar­geted the league for its han­dling of the case.

“The de­ci­sion handed down by the league yesterday is un­fath­omable to me,” he said. “I have come to the con­clu­sion that this was never about do­ing what was fair and just.”

Brady was sus­pended four games and the team was docked $1 mil­lion and two draft picks af­ter the league de­ter­mined that the team pro­vided im­prop­erly in­flated foot­balls in the AFC cham­pi­onship game against the In­di­anapo­lis Colts.

In­ves­ti­ga­tor Ted Wells ze­roed in on two equip­ment man­agers - one who called him­self “The De­fla­tor” - and said Brady was “at least gen­er­ally aware” of the illegal de­fla­tion scheme.

The team has de­nied wrong­do­ing, but it fired the two equip­ment man­agers whose text mes­sages in­cluded dis­cus­sions of football in­fla­tion.

Kraft said he ex­pected Brady’s sus­pen­sion to be re­duced on ap­peal, and re­peated the team’s claim that the league failed to prove its case.

“Six months re­moved from the AFC cham­pi­onship game, the league still has no hard ev­i­dence of any­body do­ing any­thing to tam­per with the PSI lev­els of foot­balls,” Kraft said. “I was will­ing to take the harsh­est penalty in the history of the NFL for an al­leged vi­o­la­tion of ball tam­per­ing be­cause I hoped it would ex­on­er­ate Tom.”

Brady broke his si­lence in a 507-word Face­book post ear­lier Wed­nes­day in which he de­nied de­stroy­ing his cell­phone to keep it out of the hands of in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

“To sug­gest that I de­stroyed a phone to avoid giv­ing the NFL in­for­ma­tion it re­quested is com­pletely “I was will­ing to take the harsh­est penalty in the history of the NFL for an al­leged vi­o­la­tion of ball tam­per­ing be­cause I hoped it would ex­on­er­ate Tom.”

Pa­tri­ots owner Robert Kraft

wrong,” the three-time Su­per Bowl MVP said.

“There is no ‘smok­ing gun’ and this con­tro­versy is man­u­fac­tured to dis­tract from the fact they have zero ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing.”

Kraft said that the league’s claim that Brady trashed his cell­phone was just the latest in a se­ries of state­ments and leaks de­signed to im­pugn the in­tegrity of the team and Brady, whom he called “a per­son of great in­tegrity, and a great am­bas­sador of the game both on and off the field.”

The Pa­tri­ots went on to win the Su­per Bowl for their fourth NFL ti­tle un­der Brady and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady, who had ear­lier de­nied cheat­ing ac­cu­sa­tions with the tepid “I don’t think so,” more force­fully de­fended him­self in the Face­book post, claim­ing he co-op­er­ated with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion ex­cept where do­ing so would have set a bad prece­dent for his union brethren.

Belichick de­clined to com­ment on the scan­dal.

“Noth­ing to talk about there,” he said.

AP PHOTO

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots owner Robert Kraft ad­dresses a room full of re­porters to make a state­ment con­demn­ing NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell’s ac­tion up­hold­ing New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady’s four game “De­flate­gate” sus­pen­sion dur­ing an NFL train­ing camp media avail­abil­ity at the team’s fa­cil­ity Wed­nes­day in Foxborough, Mass.

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