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Pats president says NFL should rethink discipline process

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The Sports Xchange

New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said it may be time to rethink the NFL’s disciplinary process.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has ultimate decision-making authority but Kraft said the league should reconsider the penalty structure. Kraft made it clear he wasn’t speaking specifically about the NFL’s handling of its Deflategate investigation.

“The personal conduct policy and how discipline would be handled by the commissioner started under (former commissioner) Paul (Tagliabue) and was strengthened under Roger,” Kraft said Saturday during his weekly pregame radio interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “You have to look back to the middle part of the last decade when the real premise of how it’s done was created.

“I think the world has changed and the complexity of some of the situations — things that I don’t think we ever thought we would be dealing with, we’re dealing with.”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft has harshly criticized Goodell’s decision to uphold quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged knowledge of the intentional reduction of football air pressure in the AFC Championship game in January, calling it “unfathomable.”

The owner did not appeal the Patriots’ $1 million fine and the loss of a first-round draft pick next year and a fourth-rounder in 2017 as part of the penalties.

Jonathan Kraft, the son of the owner, stated he wasn’t “referring to footballs and air pressure.”

“There probably needs to be a rethinking so that the league office and the commissioner aren’t put in a spotlight in a way that detracts from the league’s image and the game — even if the league office is doing the right thing, or the wrong thing, or whatever you think,” Kraft said. “It probably needs to be rethought for the modern era that we’re in and the different things that are coming up that I don’t think people anticipated and how the public wants to see them treated.

“At the end of the day, our league consumes the country’s consciousness for big periods of the year and what we’re doing at the league level, and what the players are doing and coaches are doing should be the focus of how the public views us that vast majority of the time. I’m talking about all the things that have been talked about over the last year. I think it’s a general big-picture issue that needs to be addressed, but I don’t have any answers for you today.

“I think the league office, with the business of football, there is so much to handle day to day, and so much to do. I think there needs to be a prescribed process for how certain parts of the discipline process are going to work, especially probably the appeals, so that the spotlight and the attention doesn’t all have to fall on Park Avenue. I’m not saying Park Avenue is capable or not capable. I’m not making a value judgment with what I’m saying. I think I’m just making a big-picture macro observation.”

Four years ago, the NFL insisted on retaining full power over the personal-conduct policy and other types of conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game.


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