Brady vows to fight on
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says he regrets not challenging penalties for deflated footballs
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.
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.