Goodell pledges not to punish Kraft until legal matters concluded
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear he’s going to let the U.S. legal system run its course before addressing the Robert Kraft scandal.
The relationship between New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is fascinatingly complex.
Once considered one of Goodell’s most powerful and outspoken allies amongst the ranks of NFL owners, Kraft was forced into a difficult public situation with his old friend when the NFL came after Tom Brady in the wake of the Deflategate investigation. Kraft, who has often spoken of Brady as a “second son,” staunchly defended his quarterback against the league, and made it clear at the time that his loyalty to Brady outweighed his loyalty to the league or its commissioner.
Since that point, the relationship between the two men has been fragile and tenuous at best, and contentious at worst.
Of the Patriots’ Big 3 (Kraft, Brady, and Bill Belichick), only Kraft had yet to be at the centerpoint of a major scandal. For Brady it was Deflategate; for Belichick it was Spygate. Then in February, news broke that Kraft was the major suspect implicated in a Florida massage parlor prostitution ring sting, and suddenly he got a taste of what the other two members of the New England triumvirate have had to experience over the course of their careers.
Kraft’s legal battle over the solicitation charges is ongoing. His defense team scored a major victory when Judge Leonard Hanser ruled that video evidence connecting Kraft to the charges was inadmissible in a court trial; not long after however, prosecutors appealed the decision and were promptly granted an extension to prepare their case. Now it appears that appeal won’t be heard till September at the earliest.
Speaking to the media at the league’s annual spring meeting, Goodell was asked by a reporter how he plans to handle the Kraft situation, and if any discipline is imminent. After all, NFL owners are supposed to be subject to the league’s personal code of conduct policy as much as players are.
Goodell was predictably coy in his response, refusing to speculate as to what Kraft’s punishment could be. He insisted instead on letting due process take place, and vowed to react only after the case had found some resolution in a court of law first.
For those following the Tyreek Hill situation, Goodell’s response was similar in tone and substance. He reiterated that the league would not take any action until authorities had finished their own investigation of child abuse accusations stemming from a disturbing audio recording.