Kraft told Sports Illustrated that Brady is innocent of the reported wrongdoing of deflating footballs before the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxboro, Mass., in late January.
“I’ve known Tommy 16 years, almost half his life,” an angered Kraft said in the Sports Illustrated article. “He’s a man, and he’s always been honest with me, and I trust him. I believed what he told me. He has never lied to me, and I have found no hard or conclusive evidence to the contrary.”
Kraft contends the Ted Wells report following the investigation of “Deflategate” was full of “ambiguous circumstantial evidence” based on alleged text messages between Brady and two New England equipment managers. “Inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us,” Kraft was quoted as saying in the Sports Illustrated article. “That’s the thing that really bothers me.”
“They want to penalize us because there’s an aroma around this? That’s what this feels like. If you don’t have the so-called smoking gun, it really is frustrating. And they don’t have it. This thing never should have risen to this level.”
Other than Brady’s four-game suspension, the Patriots were fined $1 million and lost two draft picks in 2016, including their first-round selection.
The legal proceedings of Brady’s appeal to the suspension are underway and they are complicating matters. His lawyers plan to call NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as a witness, but the hearing is scheduled to be ruled by Goodell. The date for the appeal has not been scheduled. Until that happens, expect Patriots officials, such as Kraft, to state their case openly and vehemently with the national media.
“The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn’t fair,” Kraft said in the Sports Illustrated article. “If we’re giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting.”
This is the second noted controversy involving the Patriots. The other was the “Spygate” ordeal when New England illegally videotaped the signals made by the New York Jets’ defensive coaches during a 2007 game.
Kraft told Sports Illustrated that the Patriots are fighting the “Deflategate” allegations after submitting to the “Spygate” penalties because “there was no dispute about the facts” about what happened in 2007. “The team admittedly said what happened,” Kraft said. “It was illegal to videotape (the Jets’ coaches on the sidelines. In the end, we admitted it and took our penance. This is very different.
“In 2007, we did something and acknowledged the fact of what was done. This (“Deflategate”) is an accusation of wrongdoing, without proof.”