England Patriots owner Robert Kraft reads a statement during
a news conference Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Chandler, Ariz.
The Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks in NFL football Super
Bowl XLIX Sunday, Feb. 1, in Phoenix.
— The New England Patriots came out swinging upon their arrival
at the Super Bowl.
quarterback Tom Brady or All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Not
coach Bill Belichick, either.
The team owner on
Monday night demanded an apology from the league once the Patriots
are found to be not guilty of breaking any rules regarding using
under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game.
Kraft is certain will occur.
In an unscheduled
statement, Kraft strongly defended his team's actions and
integrity, growing more fiery with each sentence.
"I want to
make it clear that I believe, unconditionally, that the New
England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process
or in violation of NFL rules," Kraft said at the team's first
media availability in Arizona.
(Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine
that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the
footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to
our entire team, and in particular to coach (Bill) Belichick and
Tom Brady, for what they've had to endure this week."
Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul
Weiss are leading the probe. Wells was the investigator in the
Miami Dolphins bullying scandal and has said the current
investigation could last a while.
Kraft welcomes a
disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and
reported upon," Kraft said, pointing directly to reports
citing anonymous sources. "We expect hard facts rather than
circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this
The NFL has said
evidence shows the Patriots used underinflated footballs during
the first half of the AFC title game victory over Indianapolis.
The league is still determining why the balls were underinflated.
confident that this investigation will uncover whatever the facts
were that took place last Sunday and the science of how game balls
react to changes in the environment," Kraft added. "This
would be in direct contrast to the public discourse, which has
been driven by media leaks as opposed to actual data and facts.
Because of this, many jumped to conclusions and made scarring
accusations against our coach, quarterback and staff questioning
the integrity of all involved."
Brady followed Kraft to the podium, but basically left any
comments on the investigation to their boss.
When asked if he
was upset by the accusations and jokes of which he was the
subject, Brady said: "I've moved past those initial feelings
and I want to move forward."
But moving away
from the deflated footballs theme will be particularly difficult
on media day, when just about any question has been fair game in
So Kraft came out
swinging before then with a speech tinged with emotion — and
and I have been together for 15 years. They are my guys,"
said Kraft, who has three Super Bowl titles and three other trips
to the big game since 2001.
part of my family. Bill, Tom and I have had many difficult
discussions over the years. I've never known them to lie to me.
That's why I'm confident in saying what I just said.
me greatly their reputations and integrity — and by association
that of our team — has been called into question this
This hardly is
the first time the Patriots have been under such scrutiny. Most
famously was 2007, their undefeated regular season. Revelations
that New England videotaped New York Jets coaches' signals during
a game cost Belichick a $500,000 fine, and the team was fined
$250,000 and stripped of its 2008 first-round draft choice by the
year's playoffs, Ravens coach John Harbaugh accused the Patriots
of being deceitful with some alignments on offense. The NFL
exonerated Kraft's team of any wrongdoing.
Now, Kraft has
taken the offensive.
"I, and our
entire organization," he said, "believe strongly in the
integrity of the game and the rules of fair play are properly,
equitably and fairly enforced."