Kraft pulls some punches, throws oth­ers

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - BARRY WILNER

HOUS­TON — Robert Kraft is pulling his punches over “De­flate­gate.” Well, some of them. While the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots owner and once close con­fi­dant of NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell wants to cel­e­brate yet another trip to the Su­per Bowl this week, he also couldn’t back down from a chal­lenge Mon­day night to ad­dress the whole mess. So Kraft took a cou­ple of shots dur­ing the Pa­tri­ots’ avail­abil­ity, yet also made sure not to tem­per the fes­tive mood.

“Ev­ery­body wants to pro­tect their fam­ily,” Kraft said when asked about the af­ter­math of the de­flated foot­balls case from the 2014 AFC cham­pi­onship game that re­sulted in Tom Brady’s four-game sus­pen­sion, a $1-mil­lion fine for the fran­chise and the loss of its first-round draft pick in 2016.

“I think our fam­ily was in­volved, or ac­cused of be­ing in­volved, in some­thing that was mis­han­dled and be­came in­ap­pro­pri­ate. Some­times in a com­pli­cated sit­u­a­tion in busi­ness, peo­ple start point­ing fin­gers, and we want to as­sure every­one that we are together.”

Kraft then cited a He­brew say­ing from the Old Tes­ta­ment. “When tough times come,” he trans­lated, “there’s noth­ing bad that hap­pens that doesn’t have good associated with it. In a way, that gal­va­nized our team.”

Sure looks that way con­sid­er­ing the Pa­tri­ots (16-2) had the NFL’s best record this sea­son, eased to the con­fer­ence ti­tle with lop­sided wins over Hous­ton and Pitts­burgh and are three-point favourites for Sun­day’s Su­per Bowl against At­lanta (13-5).

Af­ter the home vic­tory over the Steel­ers, Kraft ac­cepted the La­mar Hunt Tro­phy and made a not-too-veiled ref­er­ence to “De­flate­gate.”

“For a num­ber of rea­sons, all of you in this sta­dium un­der­stand how big this win was,” Kraft said. “And we have to go to Hous­ton and win one more.”

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