Patriots owner Robert Kraft went scorched earth against the NFL during an early morning press conference about the NFL's decision to uphold Tom Brady's four-game suspension.
Kraft, a longtime friend of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, said he found yesterday's decision to uphold Tom Brady's four-game suspension "unfathomable."
Coach Bill Belichick, who appeared in his signature hoodie, declined to answer questions regarding Brady. He told reporters most of their questions had "already been addressed," and that they'd just heard from Kraft, so they should "go back and check their notes."
Kraft twice apologized to Patriots fans for accepting the league's $1 million fine and loss of a first-round draft pick, explaining that he believed it would push the NFL to soften on Brady's suspension.
"It is routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal in the vast majority of these incidents," he asserted. In most of those cases, the league has "tangible evidence" to support the sanctions, and "still the initial penalty gets reduced."
"Six months removed from the AFC Championship Game, the league still has no hard evidence of anyone doing anything to tamper with the game balls," Kraft noted. "I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady."
On Tuesday, the NFL suggested that Brady had "destroyed" his cell phone when asked to turn it over to investigators, and that this decision weighed in to their decision to uphold the four-game suspension.
During his presser, Kraft pointed to a headline that made Brady's cell phone the focus of the story, and called its intentions "nefarious." The team turned over the cell phone and other relevant documents for "every non-NFLPA" employee, Kraft said, Bill Belichick's included.
Kraft said he'd accepted the $1 million fine and loss of a draft pick to keep this matter out of the hands of lawyers, and to "return the focus to football." But yesterday, the NFL filed a pre-emptive motion in Manhattan for a federal judge to support their decision to uphold Brady's suspension. "The league took this matter to court," Kraft said. However, it has been reported for weeks that Brady and the NFLPA had planned to take their case to a federal court if the suspension was not eradicated entirely.
Early Wednesday, Tom Brady posted an extensive rebuttal to the league's decision on his Facebook page. "I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either," the quarterback said.
The NFL's handling of Deflategate, from start to finish, "has been frustrating and extremely disconcerting," Kraft said. "I was wrong to put my faith in the league."
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Lindsey Adler at email@example.com.
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