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Kraft, Patriots could appeal fine, loss of draft picks

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Owner Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots could opt to backpedal on a decision to accept NFL punishment for Deflategate in light of the U.S. District Court’s harsh wording in ruling in favor of quarterback Tom Brady.

Kraft grudgingly accepted a $1 million fine and the loss of the team’s 2016 first-round pick and a fourth-rounder as a result of Ted Wells’ investigation into Deflategate. The Patriots were accused of intentionally deflating game-used balls in the AFC Championship game and Wells’ investigation was the impetus for commissioner Roger Goodell, a friend of Kraft’s, endorsing vice president Troy Vincent’s action against the Patriots.

The 74-year-old Kraft mentioned the scandal at Patriots Premiere, the team foundation’s annual gala in Foxborough, Mass., earlier this week.

“I spoke on behalf of the team and addressed the organization’s position regarding, in my opinion, the most overblown story in recent NFL history,” Kraft said.

Kraft said during a league meeting in San Francisco in May that he would put the league before his own franchise and not appeal after calling the investigation and process “disturbing.”

“Although I might disagree what is decided, I do have respect for (commissioner Roger Goodell) and believe that he’s doing what he perceives to be in the best interests of (all 32 teams),” Kraft said, while speaking to the media at the NFL owners meetings. “So in that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. We won’t appeal.”

Kraft might reconsider that position.

The ruling by a federal judge with strong implications that Goodell was arbitrary in exercising discretionary power in the case might create an opening for Kraft to fight the league. However, Kraft said on multiple occasions that the story has gone on too long, and he was ready for it to be over.


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