What was supposed to be a fun opportunity on College Gameday to promote the Army/Navy game at Gillette Stadium quickly shifted into a really awkward moment at the end of Robert Kraft's appearance courtesy of Pat McAfee.
The former punter chose to end the segment with the Patriots owner by seemingly implying significant changes were coming to the organization, hinting at the likelihood of Bill Belichick being fired among the biggest of all. Kraft's reaction didn't ease those watching at home, as he just shook his head before shaking McAfee's hand.
But apparently, the way the moment was perceived didn't sit well with the former punter, who made sure to address the situation on his podcast Monday morning.
"And everybody in New England — and I understand, I guess, from the New England perspective, why they did this — people were saying I ambushed Robert Kraft. I didn’t even ask a question. They said I ambushed him with that, and then we shook hands. They said, ‘Pat just told Robert Kraft that he’s going to fire Bill Belichick.’
I did not say that at all. What I was talking about, for the first time in, like, 20 years, is he going to extend Bill Belichick? Is he going to move on from Bill Belichick? How about the quarterback position? What are you going to do? Like, I don’t envy his position at all. He’s the man who owned and operated the greatest dynasty in sports history. The most consistent dynasty. He even said it. He said, ‘Bill’s been with us for 24 years.’ … “So when I said, ‘I don’t envy your position,’ everybody in Boston was like, ‘He just told Robert Kraft he has to fire Bill.’"
Fans and media picking apart a simple statement is nothing new, especially in the world of sports. It has happened since the start of professional sports coverage and will continue to be that way until the end of time. But McAfee's explanation in an attempt to take some heat off him doesn't really make all that much sense.
Given the rumors surrounding the franchise and Belichick's future, it was clear what he was implying with his closing statement. He literally talks about sports on his podcast for a living and has discussed the very idea of the head coach being fired, so it's not really a stretch to believe it's what he was saying to Kraft without directly saying it.
But he chose to double down on his assessment of the internet creating something out of nothing, suggesting he never meant anything more by his comments than what was said.
"The internet just built a narrative really quickly about what I said. … I didn’t say Robert Kraft is firing Bill Belichick. Y’all are saying that. I was just saying I don’t envy what you have to do. After I listened to it back, my intent was that. It was nothing else. So I just would like to let everybody know that I was not disrespecting Robert Kraft. It was the complete opposite of that. It was, like, massive respect for everything, and you have a tough position right now.”
It's a plausible explanation, and maybe it really is what he meant. But the way he went about saying it certainly did not translate that way at all, nor do people necessarily buy it.