Kraft ex­pect­ing ‘def late-gate’ apolog y

Pa­tri­ots owner says team will be found not guilty

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New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots owner Robert Kraft de­manded an apol­ogy from the league once the Pa­tri­ots are found to be not guilty of break­ing any rules re­gard­ing us­ing un­der­in­flated foot­balls in the AFC Cham­pi­onship game.

A con­clu­sion Kraft is cer­tain will oc­cur.

In an un­sched­uled state­ment, Kraft strongly de­fended his team’s ac­tions and in­tegrity Mon­day night.

“I be­lieve un­con­di­tion­ally that the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots did noth­ing wrong in this process that was in vi­o­la­tion of NFL rules,” Kraft said at the team’s first me­dia avail­abil­ity in Ari­zona.

“If the (Ted) Wells in­ves­ti­ga­tion is not able to defini­tively de­ter­mine that our or­ga­ni­za­tion tam­pered with the air pres­sure in the foot­balls, I would ex­pect and hope the league would apol­o­gize to our en­tire team, and in par­tic­u­lar to coach ( Bill) Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they’ve had to en­dure this week,” Kraft added, at times sound­ing angry.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed in the way this en­tire mat­ter has been han­dled and re­ported upon. We ex­pect hard facts rather than cir­cum­stan­tial leaked ev­i­dence to drive the con­clu­sion of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The NFL has said ev­i­dence shows the Pa­tri­ots used un­der­in­flated foot­balls dur­ing the first half of the AFC ti­tle game vic­tory over In­di­anapo­lis. The league is still de­ter­min­ing why the balls were un­der­in­flated.

NFL Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss are lead­ing the probe. Wells was the in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the Mi­ami Dol­phins bul­ly­ing scan­dal and has said the cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tion could last a while.

Belichick and Brady fol- lowed Kraft to the podium, but ba­si­cally left any com­ments on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to their boss.

When asked if he was up­set by the ac­cu­sa­tions and jokes of which he was the sub­ject, Brady said: “I’ve moved past those ini­tial feel­ings and I want to move for­ward.”

This hardly is the first time the Pa­tri­ots have been un­der such scru­tiny. Most fa­mously was 2007, their un­de­feated reg­u­lar sea­son. Rev­e­la­tions that New Eng­land video­taped New York Jets coaches’ sig­nals dur­ing a game cost Belichick a $500,000 fine, and the team was fined $250,000 and stripped of its 2008 first-round draft choice by the NFL.

Dur­ing this year’s play­offs, Ravens coach John Har­baugh ac­cused the Pa­tri­ots of be­ing de­ceit­ful with some align­ments on of­fense. The NFL ex­on­er­ated Kraft’s team of any wrong­do­ing.

Now, Kraft has taken the of- fen­sive.

“I, and our en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he said, “be­lieve strongly in the in­tegrity of the game and the rules of fair play are prop­erly, eq­ui­tably and fairly en­forced.”

Gor­don fails another drug test: Josh Gor­don’s trou­bles have deep­ened. He may be out of chances — and time.

The wide re­ceiver for the Browns has failed yet another drug test, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Sun­day. Gor­don, who has twice been sus­pended by the NFL for drug vi­o­la­tions, could be banned for one year, said the per­son who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of the con­fi­den­tial­ity of the test­ing.

ESPN, cit­ing anony­mous sources, first re­ported Gor­don’s failed test.

Cleve­land’s pa­tience with Gor­don has been pushed to its lim­its.

“Clearly we are very dis­ap­pointed to hear the lat­est re­port re­gard­ing Josh,” a Browns spokesman said Sun­day in a re­lease. “At this point, due to the con­fi­den­tial na­ture of the NFL’s sub­stance-abuse pol­icy, we have not been made aware by the league of a failed test. We are in the process of gath­er­ing more in­for­ma­tion and will pro­vide fur­ther com­ment at the ap­pro­pri­ate time.”

Gor­don’s lat­est mis­step could lead to the team re­leas­ing the tal­ented 23-year-old.

A Pro Bowl se­lec­tion in 2013, he was sus­pended 10 games last sea­son be­cause he tested pos­i­tive for mar­i­juana. He re­turned for five games but failed to de­liver the spark the Browns had hoped. He was then sus­pended by the Browns for violating team rules be­fore the Dec. 28 sea­son fi­nale at Bal­ti­more.

Gor­don had missed the team’s walk-through the pre­vi­ous day, and fol­low­ing the sea­son coach Mike Pet­tine re­vealed that Gor­don had been guilty of mul­ti­ple vi­o­la­tions dur­ing the sea­son.

Gor­don missed the first two games in 2013 but still led the league with 1,646 yards re­ceiv­ing and emerged as the one of the league’s top play­mak­ers.

Last year, he re­ceived a oneyear sus­pen­sion that was re­duced to 10 games after the league and Player’s As­so­ci­a­tion re­vised its drug poli­cies.

A sec­ond-round pick in the 2012 sup­ple­men­tal draft, Gor­don signed a four-year con­tract worth $5.3 mil­lion as a rookie. He fig­ured to cash in with a big­ger con­tract fol­low­ing his mon­ster ’13 sea­son, but Gor­don’s le­gal is­sues — he was ar­rested for drunken driv­ing dur­ing his sus­pen­sion last sea­son — have clouded a bright fu­ture.

Gor­don failed sev­eral drug tests while in col­lege, but the Browns couldn’t ig­nore his tal­ent and gave up a sec­on­dround pick to se­lect him three years ago. It seemed like an in­ge­nious move when he was shred­ding de­fen­sive back­fields, but now Gor­don’s days as a pro could be over.

Bears add to staff: Adam Gase is the new of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for the Bears, fol­low­ing coach John Fox from Den­ver to Chicago. The Bears also in­ter­viewed Gase for head coach be­fore se­lect­ing Fox for the job. Gase also had head­coach­ing in­ter­views with San Francisco, Buf­falo and At­lanta.

Gase was Den­ver’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for the past two sea­sons, and the Bron­cos led the NFL in scor­ing of­fense, to­tal of­fense and pass­ing of­fense dur­ing that time pe­riod. He joined the Bron­cos as the wide re­ceivers coach in 2009.


NFL, 25P


New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots owner Robert Kraft reads a state­ment dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Mon­day in Chandler, Ariz.

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